Tom Crean Fish & Wine

Tom Crean

Tom Crean the Antarctic Explorer

Crean left the family farm near Annascaul in County Kerry to enlist in the British Royal Navy at the age of 15. In 1901, while serving on HMS Ringarooma in New Zealand, he volunteered to join Robert Falcon Scott’s 1901 British National Antarctic Expedition on Discovery, thus beginning a distinguished career as an explorer during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Crean was a member of three of the four major British expeditions to Antarctica during this period. After the Discovery Expedition he joined Captain Scott’s 1911 Terra Nova Expedition, which saw the race to reach the South Pole lost to Roald Amundsen. During this expedition Crean’s 56 km solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to him receiving the Albert Medal. His third Antarctic venture was the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition on Endurance led by Ernest Shackleton.

After the Endurance expedition Crean returned to the Navy, and when his naval career ended in 1920 he moved back to County Kerry. In his home town of Annascaul, he and his wife Ellen opened a public house called the “South Pole Inn”. He lived there quietly and unobtrusively until his death in 1938.

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FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2008

694. Antarctica – Derek Mahon
‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
The others nod, pretending not to know.
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

He leaves them reading and begins to climb,
goading his ghost into the howling snow;
He is just going outside and may be some time.

The tent recedes beneath its crust of rime
And frostbite is replaced by vertigo:
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

Need we consider it some sort of crime,
This numb self-sacrifice of the weakest?  No,
He is just going outside and may be some time –

In fact, for ever. Solitary enzyme,
Though the night yield no glimmer there will glow,
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

He takes leave of the earthly pantomime
Quietly, knowing it is time to go:
‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

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