Latest News


Last Updated: 3 July 2015 - 11:49 am

Preliminary details of the 15th Shackleton School will be uploaded to the site next week.


Last Updated: 19 November 2014 - 12:51 pm

"The Crossing of the Antarctica" Photography Exhibition is being shown for the first time in Ireland in Athy Heritage Centre Museum. The exhibition tells the story of the epic first crossing of Antarctica by the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955-58. The exhibition features prints from the original film of pioneering expedition photographer, the late George Lowe, and is complemented by artefacts.   A book accompanying the exhibition is on sale in the museum. 


Last Updated: 20 October 2014 - 5:16 pm

Shackleton's story featured prominently on last night's edition on the History Show on RTE Radio 1. Shackleton school committee members Seamus Taaffe & Kevin Kenny spoke about the Museum and Shackleton's Kildare heritage while Michael Smith delved into Shackletons life as an explorer and public figure as detailed in his recently released biography of Shackkleton. Copy this link to listen to the show -!type=radio&rii=9%3A10333518%3A5392%3A19%2D10%2D2014%3A


Last Updated: 9 October 2014 - 11:02 am

The poster created by Huw Lewis-Jones of Polarworld for our exhibition of photography by George Lowe.




Last Updated: 6 October 2014 - 8:17 pm

This year's Icebreakers session will see the launch of Dr Jesús Alcoba´s book


"Shackleton´s Compass: Lessons from a polar explorer about success."


It is a book that develops Jesús Alcoba´s research on personal success, which for him is based on eight qualities: goals, resilience, mindfulness, toughness, perseverance , energy, mindset and connection. Ernest Shackleton, particularly during the Endurance expedition, is for this author the historical figure that best exemplifies these qualities.


The book is well supported by scientific investigation, since it is rooted in the concepts of top researchers like, among others, Carol Dweck , Peter Gollwitzer , Martin Selligman, Timothy Wilson or Roy Baumestier. From the biographical point of view it is based on the abundant material provided from, among others, Lansing, Huntford, Perkins or Morrell, in addition to South.


Jesús Alcoba, MSc, MBA, PhD, is the Director of La Salle International Graduate School of Business. He is the author of several books and scientific papers. He is also the author of 99Shack, a blog that tells the story of the Endurance ninety-nine years after everything happened. Among other professional associations, he is member of the James Caird Society, the only institution that exists to preserve the memory of Ernest Shackleton


Last Updated: 6 October 2014 - 8:13 pm


Friday, 24th October

Athy Heritage Centre – Museum


Wine Reception & Official Opening  - 7.30pm

by Mr Peter Carey, Chief Executive of Kildare County Council


8.00pm in  - Book Launch

In association with the Collins Press the school will host the launch of Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer by Michael Smith. The book is the first comprehensive biography of Shackleton in a generation.


The book will be launched by Aidan Dooley, actor, writer, director and the creator of the acclaimed one man show, "Tom Crean - Antarctic Explorer"




Daily Exhibition – Athy Heritage Centre - Museum


10.00am – 5.00pm - "The Crossing of Antarctica: Photographs from the Expedition that Fulfilled Shackleton's Dream"


The exhibition tells the story of the 1957/8 crossing of Antarctica by the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (TAE). The exhibition text was developed by Polarworld and features original images from the collection of the expedition photographer the late George Lowe and complemented by objects from a number of private collections.



Antarctic Adventurers – the Antarctic adventurers will recreate a three man sledging party from the early years of Antarctic exploration.



Saturday, 25th October


Lecture Series Athy Library


10.00am The Crossing of Antarctica: The Expedition that Fulfilled Shackleton's Dream

Huw Lewis-Jones

Admission €10


10.50am COFFEE


11.20 Antarctica Then and Now: A Continent Tamed?”

Rorke Bryan

Admission €10



12.10 'Shackleton – A Life'


Michael Smith in conversation with Joe O'Farrell

Admission €10




2.10pm '"Shipwreck at Cape Flora: The Expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, Englands Forgotten Arctic Explorer" '

P J Capelotti

Admission €10



3pm 'On the Natural History of Arctic Fauna:A Correspondence between James Lamont and Charles Darwin, 1860 to 1871'

Leah Devlin

Admission €10

4pm 'Icebreakers'

A series of short presentations on topics relevant to the Shackleton Autumn School, presented by those with a passion for their subject.

Admission Free






8pm Autumn School Dinner in De Burgh Manor, Athy

Tickets €40


Sunday, 26h October Athy Library


Lecture Series


10.00am 'Thar She Blows: A whalers fortuitous legacy'

Dinah Molloy

Admission €10


10.50am TEA/COFFEE


11.20am 'Shackleton – A Life in Poetry'

Jim Mayer

Admission €10


12.10pm 'The Bellingshausen opportunity: the Russian Antarctic Expedition, 1819- 1821"

Rip Bulkeley

Admission €10





2pm 'Never the lowered banner – The Shackleton Epic Expedition'


Tim Jarvis

Admission €10


Film Athy Library


3.00pm The Island at the Top of the World


Released in 1974 this Walt Disney film is in the adventure fantasy tradition of Jules Verne. The protagonists, an American archaeologist, an English businessman, an eccentric French inventor and an Eskimo trapper journey to the Arctic to search for a lost explorer only to discover a world forgotten by time.

Admission €10


4.30pm Open Forum – Chaired by Bob Headland

Cultural Evening George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Carlow





8.00pm Shackleton's Endurance



2014 marks the centenary of the Endurance expedition, regarded as one of the greatest survival stories ever told. The Shackleton Autumn School is delighted to present the premiere performance of "Shackleton's Endurance"  which for the first time recounts the story of the expedition through words and music. Brian Hughes' composition and John MacKenna's narrative capture the emotions underlying key stages of the expedition, from the optimism and hope at the departure in August 1914, through the despair of losing the ship, to the joy as Yelcho hoves to off Elephant Island. 

The event also sees the launch of the CD "Shackleton's Endurance". 

This work has been commissioned by Athy Heritage Centre to mark the Endurance Centenary.


Musical composition by Brian Hughes.

Narration by John MacKenna

Admission €15




Monday, 27th October 2012



Field Trip Assemble at The Heritage Centre – Museum


10.00am Bus tour through Shackleton country. A Visit to Ballitore and the home of Mary Leadbeater, writer and ancestor of Ernest Shackleton, the Quaker Meeting House, nearby Castledermot and the famous Moone High Cross.

Fare €10



Information on Contributors


Dr Huw Lewis-Jones

Huw is a historian of exploration who travels in the Arctic and Antarctica each year working as a polar guide. Huw was Curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute and the National Maritime Museum. His books include Ocean Portraits, In Search of the South Pole, The Lifeboat, Mountain Heroes – Adventure Book of the Year at the World ITB Awards in Germany – and The Conquest of Everest, which won the History Award at the Banff Festival. Huw has appeared on television and radio as a historian and cultural commentator, most recently as onscreen expert in the BBC documentaries Wilderness Explored, Of Ice and Men, and Frank Wild: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero. His new book, created with the veteran explorer George Lowe, is The Crossing of Antarctica


Dr Rorke Bryan

Rorke Bryan has had a lifelong interest in Antarctica, triggered by seeing ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ as an eight-year old in his native Dublin. The son of a merchant mariner, he has visited many parts of the world during his career with the British Antarctic Survey and in environmental conservation, forestry and development at the Universities of Alberta and Toronto. His interests include sailing, mountaineering and skiing. He is the author of Ordeal by Ice: Ships of the Antarctic.



Michael Smith

Michael Smith is an author and journalist who specialises in the history of Polar exploration. Michael began writing books in the late 1990s after more than 30 years as an award-winning journalist covering business and political issues for paper such as the Observer. His first book, An Unsung Hero – Tom Crean Antarctic Survivor (2000) has never been out of print. His other books include I Am Just Going Outside – Captain Oates; Sir James Wordie – Polar Crusader; Captain Francis Crozier – Last Man Standing? andTom Crean – An Illustrated Life. He has also written two books for children: Shackleton – The Boss and Tom Crean – Iceman which is on the curriculum for primary schools in Ireland

Professor P J Capelotti

P.J is associate professor of anthropology at Penn State University, Abington College where he teaches Archaeology and American Studies. He is a prominent researcher in the pioneering areas of polar and aerospace archaeology and the author of more than a dozen books. His research has taken him to Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and the North Pole. He has recently retired from the U.S Coast Guard after 24 years service and is currently at work on a history of the American exploration of Franz Josef Land. His latest book is Shipwreck at Cape Flora: The expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England’s forgotten Arctic explorer

Dr Leah Devlin

Dr. Leah Devlin is a marine biologist and historian of science who has worked at marine labs in the U.S. and Bermuda, and archives in England and Scotland. Her recent scholarly work focuses on the interactions of Charles Darwin with various nineteenth century explorers. Her work has appeared in the History of Biology, Journal of Experimental Biology, and Polar Record, among other journals. Her first novel, Aegir’s Curse, a thriller centered on the scientific village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts is appearing later this year (Fireship Press). Devlin has long and intimate experience with the world of marine science and marine laboratories, having conducted research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole across many summers.


 Dinah Molloy
Dinah Molloy began her scientific career on the technical research staff of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and was later the first Music Officer in the Arts Council.She has had a specialist software company in the UK which has been providing custom designed software for orchestras and publishers for over thirty years. Dinah has an M.Sc. in Polar Studies from the Scott Polar Research Institute and is an associate researcher in SPRI. She has recently returned to live in Ireland and is currently transcribing the late 18th century whaling logs of William Scoresby Senior, William Scoresby Jr.’s father. Dinah Molloy

Jim Mayer

Jim is an expedition leader and guide on cruise ships in the polar regions. His first polar adventure was to Spitsbergen to catch and ring Barnacle Geese and he worked for the British Antarctic Survey at the Rothera research station. He has lectured and written extensively on polar topics and has just published Shackleton: A Life in Poetry


Dr Rip Bulkeley

Rip is an independent historian of the earth sciences. He took degrees in Peace Studies and Strategic Studies in the 1980s and has written studies of the arms race and the space race. He has written several pieces on the International Geophysical Year of 1957—58 (IGY) and contributed both to a recent History of the International Polar Years (Springer, 2010) and to the final report on the recent Polar Year (2007—2009). His most recent publication is Bellingshausen and the Russian Antarctic Expedition 1819—21 .


Tim Jarvis

Tim is an author, explorer and scientist having made four expeditions to the polar regions. His recreation of Sir Douglas Mawson's 1913 trek across Antarctica was made into an award winning documentary – Mawson: Life and Death in Antarctica. Tim led the Shackleton Epic Expedition which successfully recreated Shackleton's 1916 voyage in the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia.


Brian Hughes

A native of Athy Brian is regarded as one of the foremost performers in Ireland on the Uilleann pipes and tin whistle. From Athy, he first appeared on television at the age of 8, and by the time he was 12, he had won County, Provincial, and National titles on tin whistle. He progressed to master the flute and uileann pipes and the various styles and techniques associated with playing these instruments In his piping he favours the flowing legato style of piping, commonly known as the “travellers” style. His has released two solo CD'a of which a revieiwer described as 'displaying his mastery of the whistle'.


John MacKenna

John is the author of fifteen books – novels, short-story collections, memoir, poetry and a biography of Ernest Shackleton: Shackleton - an Irishman in Antarctica.

He is also a playwright - for stage and radio. He was awarded a Silver Medal at the Worldplay Festival in New York. He is a winner of the Irish Times Fiction Award, the Hennessy Award and the C Day Lewis Award  and his novel was short-listed for Irish Book of the Year. His RTE Radio documentary series on Leonard Cohen won a Jacobs Radio Award.



Bob Headland

Bob is a senior research associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute of the University of Cambridge. He specialises in the history and geography of both polar regions. His work with the Antarctic Heritage Trust involves the preservation of the historical huts and other aspects associated with the exploration of the discovery of the Antarctic. His most recent publication is A Chronology of Antarctic Exploration.




Antarctic Adventurers

The Antarctic Adventures are a group of British re-enactors who specialise in recreating the world of Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen. They perform regularly for museums and English Heritage. They recreate a three man sledging party of the 1901 – 1913 period with clothing, sledges and equipment of the time used by Scott and Shackleton.




Last Updated: 24 September 2014 - 2:11 pm

Regretfully, due to illness Dr Bernard Stonehouse will be unable to lecture to  the Shackleton School this year but we hope to welcome him to Athy in 2015.

The replacement for Dr Stonehouse is Ms Dinah Molloy of the Scott Polar Research Institute whose lecture   “Thar She Blows: A whaler’s fortuitous legacy”  examines the legacy of weather and ice records in the ships’ logs and journals of Arctic Whalers with particular reference to the most successful whaler of his time, William Scoresby Jr



Last Updated: 24 September 2014 - 2:10 pm

The Athy Heritage Centre-Museum is now acceptings bookings for the Shackleton Autumn School.

Bookings can be taken for individual events or an all in Weekend Ticket is available for €150.

Please contact the Museum by phone - 059 8633075 if calling from Ireland.

If calling from outside Ireland call 00353-598633075.

Email for bookings -


Last Updated: 28 August 2014 - 12:34 pm


One hundred years ago this month Ernest Shackleton began his journey to Antarctica, his goal to cross the Antarctic. He did not realise this dream but in 1957/58 the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (TAE) achieved this goal, one of the great triumphs of 20th Century exploration.


This expedition will be celebrated by an exhibition in Athy Heritage Centre Museum which opens on the 24th October. The centrepice of the exhibition will be the photography of the Everest veteran George Lowe complemented by artifacts from the TAE.


Last Updated: 28 August 2014 - 11:48 am

In association with The Collins Press the Shackleton School is pleased to host the launch of Michael Smiths new book 'Shackleton, By Endurance We Conquer' on the 24th October 2014 at the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum.

Ernest Shackleton is one of history’s great explorers, a tenacious and charismatic personality who became a dominant figure in Antarctic discovery. His incredible adventures on four expeditions to the Antarctic have captivated generations. He was a restless adventurer from an Irish background with acclaimed leadership skills. Michael Smith, the author of the acclaimed biography of Tom Crean and many other polar books, has written the first comprehensive biography of Shackleton in a generation drawing on extensive research of original diaries, letters and many other publications.

It brings a fresh perspective to the heroic age of Polar exploration which was dominated by Shackleton’s complex, compelling and enduringly fascinating story.



Last Updated: 11 December 2009 - 10:53 am

Nearest the South Pole

14 December 2009 08:30 PM   KEVIN BARRY ROOM

Featuring Jonathan Shackleton, Michael Holohan, Donal O'Kelly, Simon O'Dwyer, Peter Sirr and Joe Woods

A Multi-Media event commemorating ' Nearest the South Pole'  a lecture by Sir Ernest Shackleton based on The Nimrod South Pole Expedition given in the University Buildings (now The National Concert Hall) , Earlsfort Terrace on December 14th 1909.

This commemorative evening will include Jonathan Shackleton's presentation about the Antarctic, rare recording of Ernest Shackleton's own voice, readings from the archives of the 1909 Irish Times, Poetry  by Derek Mahon, Bill Manhire, T.S.  Elliot, Claire Benyon, Peter Sirr and Leland Bardwell read by Peter Sirr and Joe Woods and a new work by Michael Holohan, ' Where a single footprint lasts a thousand years'  - a  piece of  music-theatre performed by Donal O' Kelly, Simon O 'Dwyer and Michael Holohan.



Shackleton Autumn School 2009 - Brochure PDF

Last Updated: 1 October 2009 - 11:18 am

The Shackleton Autumn School 2009 Brochure PDF is now available to download, please click here to download.



Last Updated: 4 September 2009 - 4:22 pm


The school is pleased to announce that this year the film event will be hosted by Dr Huw Lewis-Jones, Curator of Art at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge and Dr Russell Potter, Professor of English at Rhode Island College.  The title is yet to be finalised but suggestions to date have included - "Icebergs, Eskimos and Oddities" or "The Good, the Bad, and the Frozen: Some Early Films from the Wild Wild North". It promise to be rare look at early and unusual Polar Cinematography with  contributions from some surprise guests. An event not to be missed and unlikely to be repeated!

The title now confirmed is

Presumed Lost”: Some Early Polar Films (1901-1950)”


Last Updated: 11 August 2009 - 4:32 pm

The committee of the Shackleton Autumn School are close to finalising the programme for the 2009 school

The following lectures have been confirmed


Caroline Casey - Will deliver the Shackleton Memorial Lecture on the Friday night.

For her details see

Michael Rosove - ' The Great Books of Shackletonia'

Hans Kjell-Larsen - 'Captain C.A.Larsen - Antarctic Pioneer'

Dr David Wilson -   'Nimrod Illustrated: Pictures from Lieutenant Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition'

Lady Marie Herbert -      'The Way of the Explorer'

Prof Andrew Lambert - 'The Gates of Hell: the Franklin expedition, science and cannibalism'

Dr Russell Potter - "Those wrecked or stranded ships": Unresolved aspects of the Franklin Expedition"


Last Updated: 11 August 2009 - 11:21 am




 The Autumn School is pleased to announce, in conjunction with the Erskine Press, the launch of  Regina W Dalys new book 'THE SHACKLETON LETTERS - BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE NIMROD EXPEDITION' in Athy on the 23rd October.  

Regina has brought together some 165 letters about the expedition which gives a unique perspective on the planning of the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition. It features Shackleton's correspondence with many of the major polar figures of the day including Captain Scott, Dr Edward Wilson and Clement Markham.


Last Updated: 11 August 2009 - 11:20 am



 Final arrangements are being made for an exhibition to be held in the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum from October 23rd 2009. Drawn from public and private collections from Ireland and abroad, artifacts from the 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition will be on show to tell the story of Shackleton's pioneering expedition to the Antarctic.

 Items for display will include Shackleton's sledging flag, a sledge, sledge harness and many more eclectic items such as some of the foodstuffs and original supplies recovered from the expedition hut at Cape Royds. 

The exhibition will run until the end of November


Last Updated: 8 August 2009 - 1:24 pm




'Nimrod Illustrated - Pictures from Lieutenant Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition' by Dr David Wilson

To celebrate the centenary of one of the most exciting expeditions of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration comes "Nimrod Illustrated". The book is a remarkable collage of expedition photographs, paintings and ephemera in a deliberate reminiscence of the expedition scrapbooks kept by so many of the expedition participants at the time. Many of the images are rarely seen, if ever before published, whilst others are better known.

Together with quotations from the diaries of expedition participants, they tell the story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 which saw the first use of ponies and motor cars in the Antarctic; achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus; achieved the first attainment of the South Magnetic Pole; and, took Shackleton within 100 miles of the South Geographic Pole to attain a dramatic new 'Farthest South' record. This was the expedition that made Shackleton's name as an explorer and for which he was awarded his knighthood. Edited by Dr. D. M. Wilson, "Nimrod Illustrated" is a treat for anyone interested in Shackleton, the Antarctic, polar exploration or the atmosphere of the Edwardian age. It is a part of the well regarded series commenced with "Discovery Illustrated: Pictures from Captain Scott's First Antarctic Expedition" (2001).

For further details go to 


Last Updated: 17 June 2009 - 5:00 pm



'Nimrod' - The Journal of the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School has been published annually since 2007.

Nimrod (Volume 3) will be published in October 2009 and available for sale at the Autumn School. It will comprise the following articles & book reviews


"Who are these Shackletons?" - Jonathan Shackleton

'The Antarctic Treaty & Ireland' - Bob Headland

"Two Irish Antarctic Heroes: The Evolving Reputations of Ernest
Shackleton and Tom Crean" - Stephanie Barczewski

'Shackleton & Chile' - Jim McAdam

'Irish, Inuit & Norse - Aidan O'Sullivan

Book Reviews

'Nimrod Illustrated' By Dr David Wilson reviewed by Michael Rosove

'A Chronology of Antarctic Exploration' by Bob Headland reviewed by Rob

'The Entire Earth & Sky: Views on Antarctica by Leslie Carol Roberts
reviewed by Stephen Scott Fawcett

'The Dictionary of Falklands Biography' edited by David Tatham reviewed
by Rob Philpott

  'Franklin:Tragic Hero of Polar Exploration' byAndrew Lambert's reviewed by Joe O'Farrell

Back issues can be bought directly from the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum -

New Website

Last Updated: 26 May 2009 - 11:46 am

We are currently putting the finishing touches to our website, please bear with us while we make the final changes.