In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole. Amundsen’s Irish counterpart, famous polar explorer Ernest Shackleton also became renowned for his voyages of endurance around the Antarctic. He led three major expeditions, focusing on the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea.
The cabin in which the Irish adventurer died of a heart attack in the Antarctic Ocean in 1922 has been shipped to Ireland from Norway. It will continue on its journey for restoration by Conservation Letterfrack in Connemara, and then to County Kildare where it will form a permanent exhibition at the Athy Heritage Centre museum in 2016. Athy Heritage Centre Museum established the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School to celebrate the life and work of the great Antarctic explorer in the area of his birth. The cabin was part of the Norwegian schooner-rigged steamship, “Quest”, which Ernest Shackleton had used for his final voyage. The “Quest” was later purchased by John Drage and, in recent years, the cabin has been in the care of his great grandson Ulf Bakke.
The Mayor of Kildare, Councilor Brendan Weld, said: “this is an important chapter in the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Born in South Kildare, he fully deserves to be honored in his birthplace for his exploits in Antarctica and in particular for his remarkable leadership”. Athy Municipal District Councilor Mark Wall added: “Shackleton is renowned for his courage, extraordinary leadership skills and his contribution to geographical discovery, this is an exciting and welcome development for the citizens of Athy, the County of Kildare, national and international visitors”.
For countries like Ireland and Norway, it is important to have extraordinary people like Amundsen and Shackleton. It contributes to the identity and nation building efforts of the countries. The significance of the expeditions and findings of Amundsen and Shackleton are more important today than ever before. They opened up new regions, and were always willing to go the extra mile in order to reach their courageous goals. The progress of innovative technology and science is more important than ever – especially in order to bridge the gaps in the knowledge of the polar areas in the North and South. Because the climate changes are most visible in the polar areas, focusing on achieving sustainable development should be of great importance for the current and future political agenda.
To read more about Norway’s Arctic policy click here, and Ernest Shackleton click here.