Aside from the fact that commemorations were planned in Kerry and South Georgia in the late 1990s, the main job was done by Michael Smith, 15 years ago, with the publication of An Unsung Hero, a successful book that gave rise to a children’s version and to spin-offs, like plays.
When Crean’s polar exploits ended, his life was not one of “slow decay”. He and his wife, Nell, ran a successful pub — The South Pole Inn — in Annascaul, and they were extremely popular in the town, earning the nickname of Tom and Nell the Pole.
Smith said that Crean lived a peaceful and contented life, until he was struck down by appendicitis in 1938. His adventures were not unknown; many visitors to the pub asked him about them, but he would always politely change the subject.
He was a very quiet man — and he preferred to let the name of the pub, and its memorabilia, do the talking.