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The 2012 Shackleton Autumn School
As announced, the 12th Shackleton Autumn School will take place between Friday October 26th and Monday 29th October 2012.

Visit the Athy Heritage Centre's Shackleton website for details of events

An array of distinguished speakers has been lined up and encouragingly the following have already been confirmed:

Michael Smith (centre) with David and Isobel Williams (pic RS)
Michael Smith is the acclaimed biographer of Tom Crean ('An Unsung Hero'), James Wordie, Capt. Lawrence Oates 'I am Just Going Outside') and of a clutch of outstanding Irish Antarctic explorers ('Great Endeavour'), as well as 'Shackleton: The Boss', especially written for children.

Read the page about talks at the Shackleton Autumn School

Michael will talk on 'Scott's Irishmen' - exploring the notable exploits of Tom Crean, Robert Forde (1875-1959), Patrick Keohane (1879-1950) and Mortimer McCarthy (1882-1967) on Scott's tragic Terra Nova expedition and thereafter.

Mortimer McCarthy, able seaman, shown at the wheel of Captain Scott's ship Terra Nova
Patrick Keohane below deck working on ship's model
Robert Forde (second left) with others of Scott's Terra Nova expedition
Kari Herbert takes up the subject of 'Polar Wives', discussing the lives of Emily Shackleton and others, including the anxiety generated by their husbands' absence on various Antarctic or polar expeditions.

Emily Shackleton, wife to Sir Ernest and mother of his three children - Raymond, Cecilia and Edward, who became Lord Shackleton
These are issues on which Kari is very much an expert, having written the landmark book on the subject which has made an impact worldwide.

Polar Wives is also the title of a well-received book by Kari Herbert, exploring the hopes, anxieties and resilience of the wives of polar explorers Kari Herbert's acclaimed book, seen in its German edition
Dr William Barr looks at the eminent German explorer, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Filchner. 'Antarctic débâcle - differing versions of the allocation of blame' explores the much-debated story of Filchner's expedition to the Weddell Sea in 1911-1912 (which led to the mighty Filchner Ice Shelf being named after him).

Wilhelm Filchner as a young man before the turn of the centuryFilchner in early middle age
Filchner depicted in uniform at the time of his important expedition to the Weddell SeaFilchner photographed approaching older age
Dr Jan Piggott is no stranger to James Caird Society members, having served on the initial Committee and for several years brought it his expertise. He curated the much-praised millennial exhibition 'Shackleton, Endurance and the Antarctic' at Dulwich College, and has lectured twice to the Society, most recently giving a riveting talk on Scott and Shackleton . His lecture 'Scott & Shackleton: Early days, Rivalry and Leadership' will take up and develop a similar theme.

Dr. Jan Piggott at Dulwich, surrounded by members of the PG Wodehouse Society
Mawson's expedition will be the subject of David Roberts' talk, which is entitled 'Douglas Mawson and the Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Told' - a focus on the significant but also vexed Australasian Antarctic expedition. Meanwhile Dr Gabrielle Walker will address important scientific issues in 'Antarctica Today: the Scientific Legacy of the Heroic Age'.

Mawson in jocular moodMawson kitted up in balaclava, proof against the Antarctic's biting cold
Sir Douglas Mawson in his ship's cabin Mawson recovers after returning from the terrible, tragic Eastern party, of which he, the leader, was the sole survivor
Robert Burton is one of the leading polar experts today, having served for a period as head of the Polar Museum at Grytviken and doing much, quite apart from his own researches, to build up its collection and its international status. He will talk on 'Shackleton at South Georgia', a subject on which he naturally has unique qualifications.

Zoologist Robert Burton, a vastly experienced and inspiring lecturer on South Georgia and the frozen wastes of the South
The Ernest Shackleton Autumn School is held annually during October in Athy, County Kildare, Ireland. The School was established to commemorate the 'heroic' era of polar exploration, and in particular to honour the memory of Ernest Shackleton in the county of his birth. The School is the only annual polar event of its kind in the world, and is a forum for discussion and debate on polar exploration and the presentation of artistic works and exhibitions relevant to Shackleton and his time.

The School is hosted by the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum, which is home to the only permanent exhibition anywhere devoted to Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The 2012 Autumn School will feature a number of other events and talks; the full programme details will be available shortly on the Athy website. You can contact the Autumn School on (00)+353 59 863 3075, or email

The 24-page booklet on South Georgia written by Bob Burton and Stephen Venables is a valuable aide for those interested in the far southerly island so closely connected with Shackleton



The recent great success of the Endurance exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, which ran till February 2011, brings to mind another modest but successful exhibition at nearby Leyland, in Lancashire, under the auspices of the South Ribble District Council.

It was a testament to the energies and vision of museum curator David Hunt that the collection of Frank Hurley photographs exhibited in New York, Colorado, Texas and Sydney, on loan from the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, were proudly displayed in south Lancashire from June to September 2006 in the building, built around 1580-1620, that housed the historic Free Grammar School.

The Shackleton exhibition had a magnetic effect, attracting record numbers of visitors from all over Lancashire and beyond to the small museum, the South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre, all drawn by the remarkable story of he Endurance, the James Caird, the South Georgia mountain crossing and the remarkable rescue.

In particular, it led to connections of considerable interest. As part of a finale event, more than 60 people, many with Antarctic connections, joined the Mayor of South Ribble to listen intently as the museum received a call from Pauline Carr, one of the curators of the whaling museum on South Georgia. Pauline, who had ventured to a nearby building by skis to make the call, revealed to the assembled crowd what life is like on icy South Georgia, where there are more penguins than people.

Not content with linking up with South Georgia, the small Leyland museum then made a further call to New South Wales in Australia, where 86 year old identical twins Toni and Adelie Hurley were waiting to talk about the breathtaking collection of photographs their father Frank Hurley took during his time spent as one of Shackleton's brave crew.

Adelie (who sadly died aged 91 on 4 March 2010) said: "We are very proud of our dad. If it weren't for his photos, we'd have no idea what these men went through during the expedition. Diaries can only tell us so much, but a picture paints a thousand words and these pictures are truly spectacular. We're delighted that so many people have taken the opportunity to come and look at them while they were in Leyland."

"My dad proved that if you work hard enough you can go anywhere you want to go, and be anything you want to be. We are so pleased to have a chance to tell you a little about him, and I hope everyone who sees the exhibition this summer will be as excited about it as we are."

The Mayor, Clrr. Dave Watts, said: "The Shackleton exhibition was a tremendous success. It attracted record numbers to the museum, and boosted its profile across the North West and beyond. The difficulty we now face is trying to top it in the future!"

Following the finale event at the weekend, the exhibition was carefully packed away and returned to the Royal Geographic Society in London.

Prior to that, the museum hosted yet another exhibition loaned by the RGS. 'Imaging Everest: The Sherpa's Tale' provided a unique insight into the lives of the Sherpa communities in Nepal, their unrivalled knowledge of the mountains, renowned climbing skills and loyalty to visiting climbers during many attempts at scaling the world's biggest mountain. The images depicted what life was like around Everest during the 30 years leading up to its conquest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

Read an interview with Toni and Adelie Hurley

read extracts from Shackleton's photographer, a version of Hurley's diary



The Deep South art exhibition, which features work by Artists with an Antarctic connection, and which enjoyed a very successful run at Dulwich College in October and November 2010, is moving to its next London venue.

It will be mounted at The Stables Gallery, Orleans House, Twickenham from 12 May to 3 July 2011.

This fine exhibition features seven artists who have travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia. Because this The Stables offers a larger venue, there will be even more work on display, including new work produced by the artists since last November.

In 2012 the exhibition moves north of the border: Deep South will be on display at Discovery Point, Dundee from April to June 2012.



Key moments in the Endurance expedition are celebrated in a new series of paintings currently on show at the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, 31 Eyre Street Hill, off Clerkenwell Rd., London EC1R 5EW, until Saturday 3 April.

Central to the exhibition by the artist Harry Adams is a series of paintings based on the photographic records of early polar exploration, in particular those of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The exhibition, Harry Adams: A Short History of Our Progress Part II: Collected Paintings, 2011-2012 (featuring items from the Shackleton Antarctic Series) includes a series of individual portraits, based on original photographs, of the litter of puppies, Nelson, Toby, Roger and Nellie, born during Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, and who were a popular feature while the men were stranded for months in the ice.

Unfortunately, like all the dogs, the puppies did not survive, but were shot and (presumably) consumed. The sad task was allocated to Shackleton's trusty second-in-command, Frank Wild. Frank is reported to have said, "I have known many men I would rather have shot than these dogs."

'Harry Adams' is not a single artist, but in fact a joint venture between two artists: Steve Lowe and Adam Wood. The pair have worked together and collaborated over the years since they met at art college, and take pleasure in the common spirit, camaraderie and mutual inspiration this engenders. Rather than exploring the narrative of the Shackleton exhibition, the works are raw, elemental and a response to the story rather than strictly descriptive.

L-13 is the shortened title for the intriguingly named Light Industrial Workshop and private Ladies and Gentleman's Club for Art, Leisure and the Disruptive Betterment of Culture. Opening Hours during Exhibitions are Tuesdays to Thursdays, 12.00-7.00 p.m. and Sundays, 12.00-6.00 p.m. The Tel. No. is 0207 713 8255. Eyre Hill Street runs north from the Clerkenwell Road, just to the east of junction with Rosebery Avenue.

The venue is a working studio as well as a gallery, and provides a comfortable environment in which to experience the art produced by the studio's artists as well as a reading area and archive.




Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure is the title of a striking exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which runs from 16 July 2010 to 27 February 2011. Admission is Free.

The epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Endurance expedition is an incredible real life tale of survival. The exhibition features about 150 compelling photographs of the expedition's ordeal taken by photographer Frank Hurley, who dived into freezing waters to retrieve his glass plate negatives from the sinking Endurance.

The photographs, printed from the original negatives and Hurley's album of prints, are accompanied by gripping memoirs from the voyage. This is the touring exhibition which started, to great acclaim, in 1999 in New York and was attended by Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Harding Dunnett (founder of the James Caird Society) and Pippa Hare, along with the James Caird itself!

Shackleton first headed south in 1901, accompanying Robert F Scott on an unsuccessful bid for the Pole. Six years later he led his own Nimrod expedition to within approximately 100 miles of his goal, further south than anyone had gone before. Here, taking stock of his party’s failing supplies and health, Shackleton made the heartbreaking decision to turn back. In 1911 the race was finally won by Roald Amundsen of Norway.

With the prize of the Pole having been claimed, Shackleton embarked on a new challenge in 1914 - to cross the entire continent on foot, from the Weddell to the Ross Sea. Leaving the island of South Georgia in December, his ship Endurance battled her way through pack ice toward the continent. But while deep in the pack of the Weddell Sea, the ship was trapped and slowly crushed by the ice.

On board the Endurance was a talented Australian photographer named James Francis ('Frank') Hurley. Shackleton had partly financed the expedition through advance sales of photographic, film and story rights. This was to be Hurley’s second trip to Antarctica, as he had previously documented an expedition led by the Australian explorer Douglas Mawson. The 1913 film that Hurley made about Mawson’s journey had drawn him to Shackleton’s attention.

By his shipmates, Hurley was considered “hard as nails", able to endure harsh conditions and willing to go to any length to obtain a shot. After the Endurance was abandoned, Hurley dove into the icy water to retrieve sealed canisters containing his glass plate photographic negatives. Relaxing his rule that only two pounds of gear be allowed for each man, Shackleton allowed Hurley to save his best images.

Together, Shackleton and Hurley selected 120 negatives, destroying approximately 400 so that Hurley would not be tempted to retrieve them again. The chosen negatives survived ice, open seas and burial under the snow of a desolate island.

The photographs in this exhibition were made from Frank Hurley’s glass plate negatives, film negatives and an album of prints he made while still aboard the Endurance.

Shackleton and his men became castaways in one of the most hostile environments on earth. The expedition was a failure - yet the unimaginable saga of survival that followed ensured that it was for this, the failed Endurance expedition, that Shackleton is ultimately remembered.




The Tenth Ernest Shackleton Autumn School runs from Friday 22 to Monday 25 October 2010 at the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum, County Kildare (not far from the house in Kilkea where Shackleton was born; the family moved to the area in the early part of the 18th Century) .

The Autumn School, the only Polar School held in Ireland, has been a major and one of the most highly successful features in the Shackleton
'Calendar' since it opened at the turn of the present century, and is regularly attended by many of the most eminent figures in the Shackleton and Polar world today.

It provides a forum for discussion and debate on Polar Exploration and the presentation of artistic works and events related to Shackleton and his time.

Friday evening, after the official opening, will feature the launch of an important new book by Chet Ross, Lieutenant Nobu Shirase and the Japanese Antarctic Expedition of 1910-12: A bibliography. Nobu Shirase was one of the most significant Antarctic pioneers of the early 20th Century. It is published by Adélie Books.

The annual Shackleton Memorial Lecture that same evening will be given by Fintan O'Toole, Deputy Editor of The Irish Times.

Morning lectures on the Saturday will be 'The last days of the Arctic', by Ragnar Axelsson, and 'The SS Terra Nova (1884-1943) and other Polar exploration ships of the Heroic Age', by Mike Tarver. At l.00 The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, President of the James Caird Society and the explorer's granddaughter, will unveil a plaque to her grandfather at Athy commissioned under Ireland's National Committee for Science and Engineering Commemorative Plaques scheme.

The afternoon lectures are by Dr. T. H. Baughman ('The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition') and Chet Ross (on Nobu Shirase's Japanese Expedition). These are followed by the annual dinner, at the Carlton Abbey Hotel.

The Sunday morning lectures will be given by Meredith Hooper ('Uncovering the story of Scott's other expedition') and Prof. David Thomas ('Life inside drifting Antarctic pack-ice'). The Red Tent, a film about the Italian explorer Umberto Nobile, who led the failed 1928 Arctic airship expedition, starring Peter Finch, will be shown that afternoon.

In the late afternoon Bob Headland chairs an Open Forum on Polar matters. And the evening sees an entertainment of music, theatre, poetry and readings relating to Ernest Shackleton and exploration in the Community Arts Centre.

Monday morning sees a field trip to Ballitore, home of Shackleton's ancestress, the renowned educationalist Mary Leadbeater.

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday an exhibition of stunning photographs from the impressive new book The Last Days of the Arctic, published by Polar World and Crymogea, can be viewed. The exhibition runs on until 26 November 2010.




This Exhibition staged at Dulwich is the work of seven artists who have visited the Antarctic Region and South Georgia.

It can be seen at Dulwich College, London SE21 7LD from Monday October 25th to Thursday November 4th. Admission is free.

As well as the Exhibition, visitors will be able to see the 'James Caird' and the accompanying photographs and artifacts associated with Sir Ernest Shackleton's heroic journey.




The London auctioneers Christie's again staged a Polar Sale in September 2010. Many items with connections to Scott or Shackleton were included.

Of especial interest to Shackleton enthusiasts were the following:

Emily Shackleton's scrapbook, signed and inscribed, which was sold as part of the Shackleton Collection at Christie's in 2001, and sold here for £6,250 (estimate £6-8,000).

Christie's full listing read as follows: "Emily Shackleton's scrapbook, signed and inscribed 'Emily M. Shackleton 11 Vicarage Gate W' on front free endpaper, including two watercolours by George Marston ('Nimrod in the Antarctic' and 'Antarctic coastal landscape') both signed 'Geo Marston'; with two pages from S.Y. Nimrod's visitor's book, one dated 'Cowes August 4th 1907', with signatures of the King and Queen and others, the other dated '4 August 1907', with thirteen miscellaneous signatures.

One page inscribed by Emily 'S.Y. Endurance West India Docks July 16th 1914' and signed by the Dowager Queen Alexandra and her sister Maria Feodorovna and the Princess Victoria, one page inscribed by Emily 'S.Y. Endurance leaving West India Dock 1st August 1914' and signed by Worsley, Jeffrey, Hudson, Rickinson and Cheetham, one page signed and inscribed 'A. de Gerlache de Gomery designer of the Endurance wishing her all possible luck and succes (sic) I-VII-14' and one page inscribed by Emily 'S.Y. Endurance leaving West India Dock. August 1st 1914' and signed by Shackleton, Wild, Marston, Lees, Ernest Wild, Crean, Fritz Dobbs, Hussey and Aeneas Mackintosh.

With nine loose photographs, including seven of the Dowager Queen Alexandra's inspection of S.Y. Endurance, 16 July 1914, and a photograph of two pages of the Bible given by Queen Alexandra to Shackleton and the officers of the Endurance, 31 July, 1914; the album bound in the original blue crushed morocco gilt, by A. Webster & Co."

Some Hurley photographs realised £2,500 (estimate was £800-1,200). The full entry was: "A collection of photographs of the Endurance and the Antarctic by Frank Hurley (1885-1962) from the collection of Sir Philip Lee Brocklehurst, Shackleton's friend and geological assistant on the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909."

The photographs, all inkstamped on the versos 'NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATIONS LIMITED', appear to date from December 1916, shortly after Hurley's return to London on 11 November 1916, and one bears a stamp embargoing publication until 18 December 1916."

A painting by George Marston: New Coastline West of Cape North, taken from the Nimrod on 8 March 1909; watercolour on paper, 8½ x 21¼in. (21.6 x 53.9cm.) achieved £3,500 (estimate £3-4,000). Shackleton wrote of this in The Heart of the Antarctic, p.229: 'I wanted to push between the Balleny Islands and the mainland, and make an attempt to follow the coastline from Cape North westward, so as to link it up with Adelie Land. No ship had ever succeeded in penetrating to the westward of Cape North... On the morning of March 8 we saw, beyond Cape North, a new coast-line extending first to the southwards and then to the west for a distance of over forty miles. We took angles and bearings, and Marston sketched the main outlines. We were too far away to take any photographs that would have been of value, but the sketches show very clearly the type of land.'

Another Marston painting, Sledging camp in a blizzard, oil on venesta board, 10 x 12½cm. (25.4 x 31.7cm.) and stencilled 'BRITISH ANTARCTI[C]/EXPEDITION 1907' on the reverse. The painting shows a blizzard on Mt. Erebus: it was painted by Marston at Cape Royds in 1908 on a piece of one of the Nimrod expedition's packing cases. Marston (1882-1940) was in the party of six led by Jameson Adams which made the first ascent of Mt Erebus in March 1908.

Eric Stewart Marshall's High Speed camera no. HS1750 by Newman and Guardia, London quarter-plate, black-leather covered body, metal-fittings, focusing screen and magazine back, with a Carl Zeiss, Jena Planar f/3.8 130mm. lens no. 65608 set into a pneumatic shutter, in maker's fitted leather case; spare Newman and Guardia magazine back.

Shackleton recorded that the Nimrod expedition's southern party took 'One camera and three dozen plates (quarter-plate by Newman and Guardia)' amongst the scientific equipment on their four sledges. MARSHALL'S PRESENT NEWMAN AND GUARDIA CAMERA, EXCLUSIVELY FOR QUARTER-PLATES, IS IN ALL LIKELIHOOD THE CAMERA TAKEN ON THE SOUTHERN JOURNEY IN 1908-09.

Christie's full notes explain: "The Newman & Guardia High Speed camera was introduced in 1899 and was listed up to 1911. 'Shackleton had purchased nine still cameras of varying types -- including a stereoscopic model and one with a 'telephotographic apparatus' -- as well as a cinematographic camera. A number of the men also brought their own cameras, and at least nine of them took photographs using no fewer than fifteen cameras. Eric Stewart Marshall (1879-1963), who was in charge of the cinematograph, later estimated that 4,000 feet of film were shot. Despite the introduction of roll-film cameras, a high proportion of serious photographers still used bulky, dry-plate cameras, and there were several of those on the expedition. There were also smaller, portable, roll-film cameras."

'Regardless of what camera was used, photography was not an easy process in Antarctica's freezing temperatures and long periods of darkness. Marshall found that when the temperature dropped to thirty degrees below freezing, cameras stopped functioning because the oil had frozen. He therefore made a point of removing the oil from all of them. The temperature similarly affected other stages of the process. Most of the developing and printing was carried out by Brocklehurst or Mawson, both of whom found glass plates easier to work with because film became brittle in extreme cold.' (B. Riffenburgh, p.184).

An address of welcome to 'Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton C.V.O., Commander of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907' from the Inhabitants of the Urban District of Ilford, Essex, 10 March 1910, signed by the Council's Chairman, H.M. Thornton, two leaves set in card mounts, 4to (300 x 268mm), illuminated manuscript on paper by Shaw & Sons, London, the address written in a calligraphic hand within foliate border in gold and watercolours, with red papered seal (faint spotting to card endleaves). Green leather gilt (slight wear to extemities). Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922); and thence by descent.

£750 was fetched (estimate £800-1,200)by this decorative address card in which the inhabitants of Ilford, Essex honour Shackleton's services to the British Nation, his 'brilliant achievement of penetrating to within 100 miles of the South Pole and planting the British Flag in that unexplored region'. It expresses appreciation of his 'stedfastness of purpose, that capacity of surmounting almost impassable barriers, and that utter disregard of personal discomfort which we are proud to think is an attribute of the Englishman'.

Douglas Mawson's specimen box, signed with initials, inscribed and dated 'Specimens from New Zealand 1928 D.M.' on a label and numbered(?) '07' on the front wood and metal, 17¾ x 18 x 5 5/8in. (45 x 45.6 x 14.3cm.) - one of 47 wooden specimen boxes made for Mawson, the expedition geologist on Shackleton's Nimrod expedition, easily exceeded its estimate (£4-600), fetching £2,000. It was given by Mawson to the Tate Museum, Geology Department, University of Adelaide, in 1928.

The South Polar Times. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1907-1914. edited by ERNEST HENRY SHACKLETON (1874-1922), LOUIS C. BERNACCHI (1876-1940), AND APSLEY GEORGE BENET CHERRY-GARRARD (1886-1959).


Half-titles. Titles in red and black (vols. I-II), text and title in red and blue (vol. III), plates and illustrations, some chromolithographic, after Herbert Ponting, Edward Wilson and others. (Gutta percha of bindings perished and consequently text-block cracked at part III in vol. I, with 32 leaves loose, 3 leaves loose in vol. II.) Original blue ribbed cloth, spines lettered in gilt, the upper covers with gilt lettering and rope-work surrounding centrally-placed inset pictorial cloth panels, gilt edges (extremities lightly rubbed).

Volumes I and II are both from the limited edition of 250 copies, these copies numbered 128. Volume III is from an edition limited to 350 copies, this copy numbered 45. Volumes I and II are an exact reproduction of the original which appeared month by month during the winters of 1902 and 1903, edited by Sir Ernest Shackleton and Louis Bernacchi, with articles, stories, poems and drawings supplied by various members of the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904. Volume III is a facsimile of the 'magazine', edited by Cherry-Garrard, and produced during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913.

THE HEART OF THE ANTARCTIC by ERNEST HENRY SHACKLETON (1847-1922). Being the story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-9. London: William Heinemann, 1909. FIRST EDITION, NUMBER 4 OF 300 Copies SIGNED BY ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE SHORE PARTY.

2 Volumes (without the supplement The Antarctic Book Winter Quarters 1907-9, 4° (269 X 225MM). Half-titles, titles (to vols I and II) in brown and black. Plates (4 double-page, 6 etched plates by George Marston, 18 mounted including 16 coloured after George Marston. One folding panorama and three folding lithographic , maps in separate cloth portfolio illustrations, (The maps in portfolio with very short splits at folds, but without loss.) Original vellum, spines and upper covers lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut (vellum very lightly soiled, covers a fraction warped, cloth portfolio spotted). Provenance: Raymond E. Priestley.

Sir Raymond Edward Priestley (1886-1974), geologist to the Nimrod expedition, later joined Scott's Terra Nova expedition, where Wright was the physicist and glaciologist. Priestley later married Wright's sister, and was co-founder of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.




During the autumn of 2008 several committee and other members were invited to represent the Society on a visit to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. They joined members of the South Georgia Society for lunch and the tour.

They included Hon. Alexandra Shackleton (President), Sir James Perowne, (Chairman), John Bardell (Vice Chairman), Pippa Hare (Hon. Sec.), Terry Walsh, Veronica Marston, John Bonham, Bob Burton, Anne d'Ath, Doreen Browne, David McLean, Newsletter Editor Nick Smith, Tim Jarvis, Stuart Leggatt and Roderic Dunnett.

It was at the National Maritime Museum that the James Caird was restored during the years after the war. In the late 1980s she was returned to the owners, Dulwich College, where she is currently displayed.

Not least interesting was the life-size model of the Caird which the Maritime Museum now displays in atmospheric, subtly-lit surroundings.

Outside, the visitors were able to enjoy the airy atmosphere of the outdoor-feel, glass-roofed courtyard which houses the coffee bar, and to socialise amid the quite remarkable atmosphere of the Queen's House, in which the museum is housed.

The Queen's House was commissioned in 1616 by Anne of Denmark, wife of James I. James was often at the Tudor Palace of Greenwich, located where the Old Royal Naval College now stands. Anne commissioned Inigo Jones (1573–1652) to design a new pavilion for her as a place of private retreat and hospitality, adjoining the Royal Park. It was his first major commission and the first fully Classical (Palladian) building in England. Reflecting Renaissance ideals, the House's design was revolutionary. Leading European painters were commissioned to provide decorative ceiling panels and Classical sculpture was provided from Charles I's Gonzaga collection.

It survived under the Commonwealth as an official government residence, while the Tudor palace on the riverside fell into decay. After the Restoration Charles II refitted and extended the House for his mother Henrietta Maria's temporary use before she moved to Somerset House. Later the Willem van de Veldes, father and son Dutch marine artists, lived here and at Charles II's instancing founded the English school of marine painting. Replacement of most of its original windows in the 18th century with Georgian sashes gave it its more modern external appearance.

The Maritime Museum was in fact endowed by another Sir James Caird: not the Jute manufacturer who gave such valuable assistance to Shackleton and is honoured to this day as the major endower of his home city of Dundee; but the eminent and long-lived ship-owner Sir James Caird of Glenfarquhar (Fordoun, Aberdeenshire, 1864-1954), from 1903 sole partner and owner of the Scottish Shire Line. His membership and support of the Society for Nautical Research led in the 1920s to him providing the heftiest donation towards the repair and restoration of Nelson's ship HMS Victory), giving an initial donation of £50,000 to which he added a further £15,000. He also was responsible for trying to save HMS Implacable, the other last survivor of the Battle of Trafalgar.

When the Royal Hospital School vacated its buildings in Greenwich in 1933, the opportunity arose to activate a plan for a national museum of the sea. Sir James Caird offered to fund the entire cost of renovation and rebuilding (some £80,000 and also purchased a wide range of historical artifacts, rare books, globes, nautical instruments, artwork, and shipmodels estimated at the time to be worth some £300,000, a huge sum.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth opened the NMM in April 1937; and even after the opening of the museum, Sir James Caird continued for the rest of his long life to donate items and energetically to support its work.

It was particularly interesting to hear of the curative and restorative work done by the dedicated and well-qualified Museum staff on books and other maritime artefects, not least those connected with exploration in the extremes of the world, including the Poles.

Curators and experts were on hand to advise and had prepared a special display, which included mementoes of the Nimrod and Quest expeditions, on the last of which Sir Ernest Shackleton himself died on 5 January 1922 at the age of 47.

One item which caught the imagination was a collection of medical instruments carried and used by Dr. Alexander Macklin, with James McIlroy one of the two doctors aboard Endurance, and also the doctor who attended Shackleton upon his death aboard the Quest in January 1922.

A well-chosen selection of books and maps of interest to Shackleton aficianados had also been considerately prepared.

Close by was the famous Royal Naval College, dating from the late Stuart (William and Mary) era, established by Royal Charter in 1694 for the relief and support of seamen and their dependents, planned by Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) in 1694 and completed during the 18th century by Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, with its magnificent and world-famous Painted Hall and splendidly painted chapel.

It was at the Naval College and in the chapel that the funeral of Shackleton's old comrade, skipper and navigator Frank Worsley (1872-1943), who during later life in the 1930s and 1940s was a lecturer at the College, took place.

The delightful welcome and hospitality furnished by the Director of the National Maritime Museum was much enjoyed and the museum and its uniquely handsome and historic Greenwich environs made a perfect day's experience which both Societies greatly appreciated and enjoyed.




A memorial evening in honour of Sir Wally Herbert (1934-2007), pioneering polar explorer, and his travel companion and leading glaciologist Dr. Fitzroy (Fritz) Koerner, and also marking the centenary of Robert Peary’s North Pole expedition of 1909, will be held at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Tuesday 7 April 2009 at 7 p.m. to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1968-9 British Trans-Arctic expedition, and their epic achievement in becoming the first undisputed expedition successfully to reach the North Pole.

This celebration of polar science and endeavour will include film, story-telling, tibutes from leading polar figures and reminiscences from the Herbert and Koerner families.

Admission to the RGS is free and no booking is necessary; if you would like to attend, please RSVP to Kari Herbert:

Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Doors open at 6.15. The map room bar will be open before and after the celebrations.

As Robert Headland recalled, Wally Herbert was also a major figure in Antarctic exploration. "As leader of the 1961-62 southern exploration party [under the New Zealand Antarctic programme], he surveyed a large area of the Queen Maud range, where he ascended the route up the Beardmore glacier, discovered by Ernest Shackleton in 1908 and followed by Captain Scott in 1911...His programme was exploration of new territory southwards along the Transantarctic mountains. At the head of the Axel Heiberg Glacier, his party ascended Mount Nansen and descended by a similar route to that taken by Roald Amundsen in 1911, during which he found one of Amundsen's survey cairns. This was the first retracing of these historical traverses first accomplished during the heroic age of exploration."

Wally returned to Britain in 1962 and wrote his first book about his experiences, A World of Men.

Wally Herbert's's daughter, Kari Herbert, of Polar World also writes that in recognition of the anniversary (29 May 2009) she is endeavouring to locate funding to digitise approx 1,500 - 2,000 historic polar images from the Herbert Collection, a valuable and essential record of the explorer's time in the Antarctic and Arctic, as well as of the British Trans-Arctic Expedition, which would then be made available to researchers online.

The project needs just £3-4,000 pounds; this will enable a start to be made as soon as funding is amassed. If anyone can offer help, suggestions for funding or actual financial assistance, please contact Kari Herbert at,




The James Caird rigged at Dulwich around the time of the founding of the James Caird Society
The James Caird, by permission of the Master and Governors of Dulwich College, will be displayed at the newly launched Whyte & Mackay Earls Court London Boat Show at the start of December.

The boat is seen as a major attraction of the Boat Show and will be displayed within the rowing boat section of the show, housed in Earls Court No.1 arena close to Pizza Express (a sponsor Shackleton would doubtless have nobbled had it existed in his day).

The James Caird will travel from Dulwich to the Boat Show in the last week of November and will first be seen at the official Press and Welcome Day on Friday 30 November.

The James Caird on display at the 1994 Boat Show, at which a great deal of enthusiastic interest was shown. This led to the foundation of the James Caird Society
The show will be open to the general public from Saturday 1 to Sunday 9 December inclusive. Hours of opening are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with a special late opening till 9 p.m. on Thursday 6 December.

On the last day, Sunday 9 December, the show will finally close in the late afternoon, at 4.00 p.m.

The Whyte & Mackay Boat Show telephone booking number is 0844 847 1695
and the website is at, where full details can be found in .pdf or .htm format.

Harding Dunnett and John McGregor supervise the presentation of the James Caird at the 1994 Earls Court Boat Show. Largely as a result of Harding's efforts, knowledge and enthusiasm the James Caird Society was established.



Welcome to Virtual Shackleton! This exciting new section of the Scott-Polar Research Institute's website responds to the tremendous popular interest in the life and expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Virtual Shackleton allows you to view a selection of the SPRI's unique archive and museum treasures and aims to provide a scholarly resource as well as an introduction to the Institute's wealth of historical documents and artefacts.

One of many fascinating and intriguing items is a pair of snow goggles, used by Sir Ernest Shackleton during the Endurance expedition. As the accompanying article records, 'After the successful crossing of South Georgia to reach the safety of the whaling station at Stromness, Shackleton gave these goggles to a Norwegian whaler from Sandefjord called Harald Nilsen. The whalers knew Shackleton well and were enormously helpful both before the expedition left for the Antarctic and also when he returned in May 1916, to set about rescuing his men.' Another is a chronometer (a very accurate watch used for navigation). This was used by Worsley during the open boat journey, aboard James Caird, from Elephant Island to South Georgia in 1916, which remains one of the greatest boat journeys ever accomplished. 'Worsley's skill in navigating is remarkable. Using only a sextant and chronometer they reached the safety of King Haakon Bay in South Georgia on 10 May 1916 and saved the lives of the men stranded on Elephant island.'

Explore the SPRI's 'Virtual Shackleton' pages to view documents and correspondence

There are items relating to five expeditions of which Shackleton took part or which he led. They are: Discovery (Scott's 1901-4 Antarctic expedition), on which Shackleton served; Nimrod; Endurance: Aurora (the support party to the Endurance expedition); and Quest (Shackleton's uncompleted last expedition of 1921-2). Virtual Shackleton, the SPRI explains, is an ongoing project and more articles will be added in the future.

See the list of objects and correspondence held by the SPRI

A prize possession is Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance diary, along with his diaries from the Nimrod and the Quest. There are also the deck logs from the Nimrod and Quest, and two other valuable Shackleton diaries: one being the diary he kept on Captain Scott's Discovery expedition, together with the scientific notes he made on that, his first expedition; the other being his first Antarctic sledging diary The many other treasured items include a sheet of instructions from Shackleton on what each of the men should do if the ice brokeup around 'Ocean Camp', one of the Endurance party's temporary (though nonetheless trusty and enduring) resting places on the ice; a telegram from Queen Alexandra to Emily Shackleton upon the news of Shackleton's safe arrival in the Falklands; a letter from Shackleton to his wife; a letter from Sir James Caird, sponsor of the Endurance expedition; a letter from the Liptons tea company about supplies for the Aurora; the chart used by Shackleton's ten men stranded in the Ross Sea at the same time as the Endurance expedition (and currently on loan to the French maritime exhibition); a list of provisions and letter from Capt. Aeneas Mackintosh, commander of the Aurora; and sections of the diary of Dr. Alexander Macklin charting the crew's arrival at Elephant Island.

Dr. Alexander Macklin photographed by Frank Hurley ministering to the trusty huskies aboard 'Endurance'
There is a testimonial letter introducing Shackleton from Sir Clements Markham, RGS President; a humorous article by Captain Scott published in the South Polar Times; a spirited letter of request from three young ladies, Peggy Pegrine, Valerie Davey and Betty Webster, to join Shackleton's Endurance expedition.

See Shackleton's instructions regarding Ocean Camp

The letter from the three daring young ladies begins: 'We "three sporty girls" have decided to write and beg of you to take us with you on your expedition to the South Pole. We are three strong, healthy girls and also gay and bright, and willing to undergo any hardships that you yourselves undergo. If our feminine garb is inconvenient, we should just love to don masculine attire.....We do not see why men should have all the glory, and women none, especially when there are women just as brave and capable as there are men.'

See another letter from Shackleton on the 'Nimrod' expedition to his wife Emily

Of particular interest are a map drawn from memory by Frank Worsley of the route he, Shackleton and Crean took across the mountains of South Georgia; the deck log from the Quest, including Worsley's poignant, to-the-point entry in the early morning of 5 January 1922: "3am. Sir Ernest Shackleton died suddenly of heart failure. Drs. Macklin and MacIlroy in attendance.' Shackleton died in his cabin aboard the Quest.

Dr. James A. McIlroy, expedition doctorDr. Alexander Macklin, expedition doctor
Frank Wild, who took over leadership of the 'Quest' expedition following Shackleton's unexpected deathFrank Worsley, skipper of the 'Endurance' and of the 'Quest'
The SPRIs Virtual Shackleton was proposed by former JCS member and much-missed leading light of the Scott-Polar, the late William Mills (see obituary below) and implemented by Caroline Gunn with the assistance of the SPRI's Webmaster. The project is funded by The Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

a Signed Portrait of Sir Ernest Shackleton

How to visit the Scott-Polar Research Institute (SPRI)



The Shackleton expedition sponsored by the Fundació Caixa Catalunya will be on display at a variety of venues in Spain until 2009
Sr. Eugenio Civera from Barcelona has sent news that the acclaimed Travelling Exhibition 'Atrapados en el hielo - 'Trapped in the ice: Shackleton's legendary Antarctic Expedition' - is currently visiting several major centres in Spain.

Barcelona Banking Foundation (Fundació Caixa Catalunya), the principal sponsor of the Spanish 'Atrapados en el hielo' exhibition
This important Exhibition, supported by the Fundació Caixa Barcelona (Barcelona Banking Foundation), runs through 2007 and 2008 until 2009, and is backed up by a 240 page-long book by Caroline Alexander, translated as Atrapados en el hielo and published by Editorial Planeta, SA Barcelona.

Four views of the Atrapados e el hielo Exhibition running through 2007 and 2008
The exhibition on display in Palma, Majorca earlier in 2007The Shackleton Exhibition runs at various venues in Spain throughout 2007 and the first half  of 2008
The widely acclaimed touring display originated in the showing of the award-winning Endurance film by George Butler and the Shackleton exhibition mounted in 1999 at the Museum of Natural History, New York, which toured to major centres in the United States, and for which Caroline Alexander wrote her best-selling book Endurance.

The Maritime Museum in Barcelona, where the Shackleton Exhibition will be displayed from 15 Oct 2007 to 24 February 2008
In Spain, the film has been shown several times on public TV, and has generated a fair amount of excitement, to the extent that Shackleton is now a household name. The Exhibition has so far visited Palma, in Majorca and now goes to Valladolid, north of Madrid, where it runs at the Museo de la Ciencia (tel. +34 (0)983 144 300) from June and through July until 19 August (entrance free/entrada gratuita, closed on Mondays/cerrado Lunes). After that it will visit Seville, running from 13 September to 28 October. The display is specially designed so as to be highly flexible and appropriate for showing in a wide variety of different spaces.

Barcelana's Museum Maritim, located in the Old Port area whence Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) sailed for America
From 13 November 2007 to 24 February 2008 the Shackleton Exhibition will be displayed in Barcelona, at the premier Naval Museum of Spain and Catalonia, the Museu Marítim (Museo Maritimo), located in the picturesque Port Vel (or old Port), Avenida de les Drassanes s/n 08001, Barcelona (Tel. +34 90) 933 429 920). It then moves on to Zaragosa (Saragossa, March to May 2008) and thence to Alicante, in Southern Spain (late May and all June of 2008) and will continue to be seen in Spain until 2009.

Highlights of the Barcelona Maritime Collection

Naval collections at the Barcelona Maritime Museum

In addition to its special emphasis on the 'historic drama' of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition, documented by the photographs of Frank Hurley, and on places Shackleton visited, the 'Trapped in the Ice' exhibition focuses on Antarctica and the Polar regions, climate change, the Southern Ocean, the earth's atmosphere, life and survival in extreme temperatures, scientific research and international cooperation, Spain's role in polar research, environmental protection and International Polar Year 2007/08 (concluding in March 2009).

The Museu Maritim in Barcelona
Museo Maritimo, BarcelonaMuseu Maritim, Barcelona  Museum Maritim, Barcelona
Visit the website of the Barcelona Maritime Museum

Visit the website of the 'Trapped in the Ice' Exhibition



9 DEC 2006 TO 30 JUNE 2007

The Shackleton exhibition at the French Museum of Maritime History, Rochefort
In partnership with the Scott Polar Research Institute, La Corderie Royale - Centre International de la Mer is organising an exhibition entitled "Surviving the ice: Ernest Shackleton towards the South Pole, 1914-1917" ("Survivants des glaces: Ernest Shackleton vers le Pôle Sud, 1914-1917")in the historic arsenal of Rochefort, France.

On the ice
The SPRI has generously loaned a number of artefacts relating to Sir Ernest Shackleton's expeditions, including a tins of provisions specially prepared for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and a copy of Shackleton's chart of the route to South Pole, drawn by Frank Debenham for use on the Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-13.

Details of the Exhibition at the SPRI site

For those interested in a site on the Antarctic full of information about the history of exploration, the continent's Geographical and Natural features, climate, travel and even the Political landscape, a visit to 'Antarctique: Sejours, Vacances, Voyage', a Swiss site in French, is to be recommended.

Exhibition details at the La Corderie Royale Museum website

Headed 'Sejour en Antarctique', the site brings together on a single extended page many useful facts and figures about the Continent which so caught the imagination of Ernest Shackleton and many others from the continents of the globe - Europe, America, Australia and Asia.

A good deal of additional information on Antarctica and the various expeditions can be gleaned from the French Transpolair website.




Sir Ernest Shackleton, hero of the Antarctic
The 6th Athy Ernest Shackleton Autumn School was held from Friday 27th to Monday 30th October 2006 at Athy, in the County of Kildare. This highly successful and well-supported annual event is designed to celebrate the life and work of Sir Ernest Shackleton close to where the explorer was born and spent his earliest years.

The official opening and Official Opening and Shackleton Memorial Lecture was given by Irish Senator David Norris, the scholar on Joyce and sturdy campaigner for Human Rights, on Fri 27th Oct at 7.00 p.m. in Athy Heritage Centre-Museum. Later the same evening, at 9.00 in the Castle Inn, the performance poet Cliff Wedgbury performed 'The Boss - A life told in story and song', a celebration of the exploits of Shackleton, Wild, Worsley, Crean and others. The performance included his own compositions, ‘The Ballad of Ernest Shackleton’ and ‘The Ballad of Tom Crean’. He also gave a performance specially for children on Saturday afternoon.

The exhibitions at the Heritage Centre and Museum was open daily. The permanent Ernest Shackleton Exhibition includes a scale model of the Endurance, artefacts relating to Shackleton’s expeditions and his Quaker ancestry, and an audio-visual display. The exhibition "Shackleton’s men", curated by John F. Mann, traced the individual life stories of the men who served with Shackleton on his 1914-1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition through the use of images, artefacts and text.

Once again the Antarctic Adventurers recreated what it was like to be part of a three-man sledging party from the early years of Antarctic Exploration. Winning entries from the Antarctic Wildlife painting competition were displayed.

The Antarctic Adventurers visit the Athy Heritage Centre
A handsome programme of lectures was arranged. On the Saturday they included Seamus McCann on “Return to South Georgia”; Joe O’Farrell on "The Ross Sea Party - the harrowing story of the Ross Sea Party - the forgotten story of Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition"; Margot Morrell on "Shackleton’s Way – the making of a bestseller"; and "Northabout - Polar Circumnavigation" by Jarlath Cunnane.

The Athy Heritage Centre, Co. Kildare - Shackleton's County
Read Biographies of this autumn's lecturers

The Official Inaugural Dinner was held at the Carlton Abbey Hotel, Athy on Saturday evening.

On the Sunday there were two lectures. At 10.30 a.m. Robert Stephenson spoke on "Antarctic Sites outside the Antarctic - memorials, statues, houses, graves and the occasional pub"; and following this Dr. Bob Headland will lecture on "Attainment of the North Pole, a historical account". A celebrated and historic polar film, "With Byrd at the South Pole", was shown. The film, released in 1936, is an Oscar-winning documentary of U.S. Navy Rear-Admiral Byrd’s journey to the Antarctic together, with his famous first flight over the South Pole. This was followed by an open forum for discussion.

Further events included a live evening drama performance by Jenny Coveral of "A Father for my Son", written by herself and Robert Edwards and based on the life of Captain Scott’s wife, Kathleen; and on the Monday a "Bus tour to Shackleton country," led by John MacKenna, taking in a visit to Ballitore and the home of Mary Shackleton-Leadbeater, writer and ancestor of Ernest Shackleton and the Quaker Meeting House and Shaker Store.

The cost of the Full Autumn School, including the Inaugural Dinner, was 65 Euros per person.

Shackleton on the ice with skis
Mary Leadbeater's House, Ballytore
Sponsors of the Athy Heritage Centre, who include include main sponsor Fáilte Ireland, together with Athy Town Council, Kildare County Council, Athy Chamber of Commerce, Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, Athy, RAR Athy and The Irish Times




During the Tenth Anniversary meeting of the James Caird Society at the Scott-Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge, UK on Friday 14th May 2004, Members of the Society and their Guests had an ideal opportunity to view the Institute’s major new Shackleton Exhibition.

The Exhibition “Shackleton : The Hidden Collection” will run until late Autumn 2004. The SPRI exhibition is one of the most impressive and distinctive the Institute has ever hosted : the absorbing display includes Shackleton’s original diaries, logbooks and many maps and artefacts from his Antarctic Expeditions. Many of these objects have never been displayed before.

The Hon.Alexandra Shackleton, Shackleton’s Granddaughter and President of the James Caird Society, described the SPRI’s display as “a fascinating collection" and the evening viewing and lecture as “an unique occasion.”

The Shackleton Exhibition formed the centrepiece to the James Caird Society’s visit to Cambridge, which included dinner in the ‘First South’ Room and, before dinner, an introductory lecture about the exhibition by Dr.Robert Headland, Archivist of the Scott Polar Institute.

In his lecture, entitled “Shackletoniana – The Fulfilment of the Explorer’s Wishes”, Dr.Headland drew attention to the manuscripts from all sources for each of Shackleton’s expeditions and documents relating to Discovery, Nimrod, Endurance, Aurora and Quest, including diaries of not just Shackleton but members of his crew, such as Dr. Alexander Macklin.

Proceeds from this JCS charity dinner were donated to the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Conservation Plan for Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds.

The Cambridge University Scott Polar Institute on Lensfield Road is the greatest and most important Polar Archive and Centre for Polar Research in the world : the ambit of its studies is bi-Polar, taking in study of both North and South Poles, and circum-Polar, embracing serious research relating to the entire polar regions. The Institute also hosts the Secretariats of the International Glaciological Society and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road,
Cambridge CB2 1ER England Tel. +44 (0)1223 336540 Fax +44 (0)1223 336549 Email :



The James Caird left Dulwich on 16th March 2004 en route to the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand. It arrived on 21st April. The boat was installed ready for the opening of an exhibition on 29th May. Our President, The Hon.Alexandra Shackleton, spoke at the preview on 28th May.

The Te Papa exhibition, entitled Antarctic Heroes, is based on the hugely successful South - The Race to the Pole exhibition developed by the National Maritime Museum in London. The James Caird has been specially brought over from England for this exhibition, which provides New Zealanders with 'the rare chance to see Shackleton's historic craft.'

Antarctic Heroes features many other items including personal belongings of explorers, scientific equipment - including Amundsen’s compass - and the Union Jack that Scott carried to the South Pole. Period photographs, film footage, and audio excerpts of polar explorers also feature, including screenings of Frank Hurley’s reconstituted film South, which uses original footage shot on the expedition to tell the incredible story of Endurance and the James Caird.

The exhibition runs at Te Papa (PO Box 467, Wellington, New Zealand. Telephone: 64-4-381-7000 Fax: 64-4-381-7070. E-mail:
from 29 May 2004 to 26 October 2004. The James Caird will return to Dulwich College during mid-December 2004.

Visitors are always encouraged to telephone the College reception
(+44 (0)208 693 3601) to check admission to the James Caird, which they are welcome to see when the Caird is at home in the U.K. (and also during school terms and on school days during school hours). It may be possible to visit the College during the school holidays and half-terms, but note that the North Cloister, where the boat is usually kept, is locked at weekends.




The 5th Ernest Shackleton Autumn School took place at the Athy Heritage Centre, Co. Kildare, Irish Republic from Friday 28th October to Monday 1 November 2005. The event is now recognised as one of the world's major Antarctic symposia.

The 2005 Autumn School 28 Oct-1 Nov
The event also highlighted the fact that Athy Heritage Centre has the only permanent exhibition devoted to Sir Ernest Shackleton, which includes an original sledge and harness from his Antarctic expedition, a 15ft model of Shackleton's ship Endurance and an exhibition of unique photographs and correspondence; there is also an audiovisual display featuring Frank Hurley's original film footage of the Endurance expedition.

Visit the Athy Heritage Centre website

The official opening at 7.00 on Friday 28th was followed by a lecture by Brian Keenan, followed at 9.00 by a drama, entitled 'Breathless', by John Mackenna.

The distinguished writer and former Lebanon hostage Brian Keenan
There were lectures on the Saturday by Joe O'Farrell, David Murphy, Michael Smith and David Tatham, who will spoke on 'Shackleton’s Island, South Georgia in the 21st Century’. There was also be an evening of music focusing on sea shanties and folk music.

The speakers on Sunday were Grania Willis and Robert Burton, who spoke on 'Shackleton and the Norwegians'. In the afternoon the 1948 film 'Scott of the Antarctic', starring Sir John Mills and with music by Vaughan Williams, was shown, followed by a 'The Shackleton Forum' - a question and answer session with The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, President of the James Caird Society and granddaughter of the explorer.

biographies of the speakers, lecturers contributors

On Monday John Mackenna led a guided bus tour of 'Shackleton country', taking in Castledermot, Ballytore and Kilkea.

The Athy Autumn School
The website is and full details of further events can be obtained from the Athy Heritage Centre and Tourist Information Office, Town Hall, Emily Square, Athy, Co. Kildare. Tel: +353 (0)59-8633075 email:

Sir Ernest Shackleton
Full details of the Shackleton Autumn School

The Ernest Shackleton Exhibition is open from 10.30 to 5.30 each day. As well as the scale model of the Endurance, artefacts relating to Shackleton’s expeditions and his Quaker ancestry and an audio-visual display can be viewed. There is a static display by Kevin Kenny relating to Shackleton's exploits as seen through contempory newspaper reports; and also ‘Shackleton - a Life on Postage Stamps' by Dr Michael Farry.

The Model of Endurance at the Athy Heritage Centre
Also featured was The Antarctic Adventurers group, who will recreated a three man sledging party of the of the classic period of Antarctic exploration, complete with sledge, tent, sleeping bags and all the necessary equipment.



The Brecon Festival of Adventure and Exploration was mounted from Friday 31st October - Sunday 2nd November 2003 at the Theatre Brycheiniog, Canal Wharf, Brecon LD3 7EW, South Wales.

The Festival comprised an extensive weekend of lectures, films and displays embracing Exploration in different parts of the globe, with a special emphasis on Polar Exploration.

The Festival was opened by the James Caird Society's President, the Hon.Alexandra Shackleton, in a ceremony at 8.00 p.m. on Friday 31st October 2003 hosted by Dr.Robert Headland, James Caird Society member and Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute. The evening provided a revealing tribute to Arctic and Antarctic exploration, featuring Shackleton’s expeditions and the impact they have had upon the exploits and motivations of today’s adventurers and explorers, with JCS Member Trevor Potts, the first man to reenact both Shackleton's epic voyage aboard the James Caird and his mountain crossing of South Georgia, and Caroline Hamilton, leader of the first British all-women's team to ski to the South Pole in 1999/2000 and of the all-women's relay team which went to the North Pole in 1997.

Other scheduled speakers included George Band, veteran of the Hillary-Tensing Everest expedition; climbers and mountaineers Kurt Diemberger, Alan Hinkes and Doug Scott; Peter Bray, the first man to paddle the North Atlantic singlehanded and unaided; and John Thomas, whose British-Chinese expedition made the only 90 day crossing of the Taklamakan desert.

Associated exhibitions included The Golden Age, a valuable retrospective of important historical, polar and mountaineering photography, featuring original work of Hurley, Ponting and other contemporary photographers spanning over 100 years, presented by Atlas Gallery.



On Friday 26 March 2004 Irish Maritime Exhibitions Ltd held the first in a series of evening lectures in preparation for a major Antarctic exhibition to be held in Dublin in 2005, at which the James Caird will be on display.

The venue was the National College of Ireland, Mayor Street, International Financial Services Centre, Dublin 1.

The lecture, entitled 'Tom Crean and other Irish Explorers', was by two distinguished Shackletonians : Michael Smith, author of 'An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor' and 'I am Just Going Outside : Captain Oates - Antarctic Tragedy'; and Frank Nugent, leader of the Irish South Aris Expedition following in Shackleton's footsteps and author of 'Seek the Frozen Lands : Irish Polar Explorers, 1740-1922'.



The 3rd Annual Ernest Shackleton Autumn School, commemorating an era of Polar Exploration, took place from Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th October 2003 at the Athy Heritage Centre, County Kildare, Ireland.

Events included lectures, exhibitions, sessions on creative writing and drama, a showing of the restored Frank Hurley film South, a Field Trip to 'Shackleton Country' including Castledermot and Kilkea, and an Open Forum chaired by Dr. Bob Headland, Curator of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

The extensive and interesting programme of lectures included "Irish Arctic Exploration" by Frank Nugent; "The Story of Captain Oates' Antarctic Tragedy : From the Curragh to the South Pole" by Michael Smith; "The Other Shackleton : The Big Brother and the Crown Jewels Affair" by Myles Dungan; "The Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard" by Sara Wheeler; "A History of Scott's Ship Discovery" by Polar Historian and JCS committee member Ann Savours; and "The Importance of being Ernest in a changing Antarctica : An Illustrated Review of Places that Shackleton Visited" by Shackleton family member and archivist Jonathan Shackleton.

The Athy Museum has recently acquired a new exhibit, a model of Shackleton's ship Endurance which was used in the Recent Kenneth Branagh/Channel 4 Television Film 'Shackleton'. A large colour picture of the model appears on the museum's website.

The Shackleton exhibits at the Athy Museum are open from 10.00 to 5.30.
For information and bookings for future events contact: The Athy Heritage Centre and Tourist Information Office, Town Hall, Emily Square, Athy, Co. Kildare. Tel: +353 (0)59 863 3075, email :



The 4th Ernest Shackleton Autumn School at Athy, Kildare will take place from 20 to 25 October 2004. Details of this year's programme will be available on the Athy Heritage website shortly.

The Athy Heritage Centre has established the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School to celebrate the life and work of the great Antarctic explorer in the area of his birth.

Dr. Ann Savours (Shirley) writes : The 3rd Shackleton Autumn School took place in Athy, Co Kildare, Ireland between 23rd and 27th October 2003. It was organised by the Athy Heritage Centre. Speakers included Michael Smith, Frank Nugent, Sara Wheeler, Jonathan Shackleton, Ann Savours and Luke McKernon.

Robert Headland, Archivist of the Scott-Polar Research Institute, chaired an open forum on the subject of the James Caird.

An important feature at the Autummn School was the world premiere of "The Woman at the Window", a play based on the life of Quaker writer Mary Leadbeater (nee Shackleton). A second play written and performed (solo) by Aidan Dooley paid moving tribute to the Irishman Tom Crean, a very fine figure who served loyally under both Scott and Shackleton.

For those who attended, it was a memorable four days.



The James Caird was the centrepiece in 2000-2001 of a major exhibition entitled Shackleton : The Antarctic and Endurance, the explorer's old school in Dulwich, London SE21. The exhibition, curated by Dr.Jan Piggott FSA, at which the James Caird itself - regularly displayed at the school - was the central exhibit, was hailed by leading British newspapers and magazines as a major artistic success and a significant contribution to Shackleton and Antarctic studies. (A superbly illustrated catalogue is available.

Also, from May to September 2001 the James Caird was displayed at the exhibition South - The Race to the Pole, which focused on the South Polar expeditions of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, including those led by Shackleton aboard Nimrod, Endurance and Quest, at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF.

South: the race to the Pole was (reputedly) the world's first exhibition on three heroes of Polar exploration : Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton. It was also one of the most successful exhibitions in the history of the National Maritime Museum. Due to its unprecedented success, the exhibition was substantially extended, running on into the early part of 2002.
The exhibition featured 180 objects, including the Union flag placed at the Pole by Scott, alongside the Norwegian flag taken by Amundsen, and Shackleton's boat compass from the James Caird, used by Frank Worsley to navigate on the famous boat journey.

Displayed for the first time was Rudyard Kipling's personal copy of The South Polar Times, the newspaper produced in the Antarctic as a morale booster by members of Captain Scott's Discovery expedition, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who had been a member of the expedition under Scott and was the editor of The South Polar Times, presented a bound volume of the newspaper to Kipling. The title page of this copy is signed by Shackleton and his second-in-command Frank Wild and dated 8 June 1914.

The first two volumes of the newspaper were published in 1907 in a limited edition of 250 copies - the Museum's copy is numbered '203'. The book is hand-illustrated and coloured and consists of direct facsimile reprints of the newspaper. Besides editing The South Polar Times, Shackleton typed out each issue in an office he had put together in Discovery's hold.

The exhibition's curator, Sian Flynn, has noted the date on which Shackleton signed the book: '8 June 1914 was about one month before Shackleton and Wild set off on his Endurance expedition to Antarctica. It could have been that the explorers were fundraising among the 'Establishment' and Shackleton presented the book to Kipling at a related event.

Rudyard Kipling was the man who named the National Maritime Museum. Kipling was enlisted to suggest a suitable name for the institution, having previously named the streets at the popular British Empire Exhibition, held at Wembley during 1924–25. He chose the words 'Maritime Museum' at some time between July 1928 and October 1929. The meeting of museum trustees agreed to the name and the title National Maritime Museum was approved by the Admiralty in 1931.



To celebrate the millennium a major exhibition on Shackleton was mounted at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and at the Explorers' Hall of the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The exhibition was also seen at the Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem, Massachusetts. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, was the only museum in the American North-West to host the exhibition, which ran until 31 December 2001. (See also the two-page Shackleton biography and photo on the museum's website.)

An interview with Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, co-authors of Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer (Viking, 2001), has been published on the web. Also the article 'Get Ready for Shackleton Mania' by American journalist Stephanie Capparell published in the Wall Street Journal prior to the opening of the New York Exhibition can be read online.



This splendid 'Shackleton' event took place from 22-25th October 2004 at the Athy Heritage Centre, Athy, Co. Kildare, the Republic of Ireland, just down the road from where Shackleton was born.

Thanks to the tireless efforts and vision of Chairman Frank Taaffe and his committee, the Autumn School is now rightly regarded as the pre-eminent Polar Forum in Ireland.

There was a rich and varied lecture programme which enthralled the audience. Key speakers included; Seamus McCann, Dr Jim McAdam, Dr Aidan O'Sullivan, Kevin Kenny, Dr Brendan McWilliams & Dr R.K (Bob) Headland.

In addition to the lectures various attractions included; An Exhibition of Unseen (Shackleton) Photographs; the 'Antarctic Adventurers'; and Street Theatre.

In the evenings (Saturday/Sunday) there was a drama premiere presentation of John MacKenna's A Horse's Breath on a Winter Road - a portrayal of the history of emigration from Ireland as recorded in song and story. There was also a Field Trip to 'Shackleton Country'.

The whole series of events was truly memorable,



The Kerry County Museum, Tralee hosted Ireland's first-ever "Antarctica" exhibition from April 19th to December 22nd 2002. The exhibition traced the development of Antarctic Exploration, focusing especially on the story of Tom Crean.

The Crean Collection recently donated by the explorer's family to the Kerry Museum was among the many artefacts on display.

Other highlights included personal effects and expedition equipment from all the Heroic Age Antarctic Expeditions, items belonging to Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton and members of their expeditions, and an original sail from the James Caird. More information from John Griffin, Manager, Kerry County Museum, Tralee, Ireland. Tel: +353-(0) 66-712 8888. Fax: +353 (0)-66-712 7444. email:



The Athy Heritage Centre, County Kildare, Ireland ran its second Ernest Shackleton Autumn School from 24 to 27 October 2002. The Autumn School, which was opened by the Society's President, The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, was designed to celebrate the life and work of Shackleton through a series of lectures, musical and artistic events in the area where he was born.



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