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Last Updated: 20 July 2016 - 11:59 am

The Autumn School committee is pleased to confirm the following lectures for the 2016 school

Camilla Nicholl - The 9,000 mile museum:Caring for our Antarctic Heritage

Dr Huw Lewis-Jones - Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure

Frank Nugent - Ashe & Crean

Dr Jozef Verlinden - Ernest Shackleton and Adrien  de Gerlache - A Belgian Connection

Dr Russell Potter - Finding Franklin - The untold story of a 165 year search

Meredith Hooper - Triumph from Disaster: Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition

Mick Conefrey - What makes a successful explorer?

Simon Stephens - Life after Shackleton: The Conservation and Travels of the James Caird




Last Updated: 1 March 2016 - 10:25 am

Kildare County Council is seeking submissions on the location of the statue of Shackleton to be unveiled in Athy on the 30th August 2016, to mark the centenary of the rescue of the men of Endurance from Elephant Island.


Fuller details will be available on the council's website -

Email submissions should be sent to or by hard copy/letter to Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare County Council, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, County Kildare by 12 noon, Wednesday March 16th

 3/4 size clay model in the studio of the artist Mark Richards


Last Updated: 9 November 2015 - 10:50 am


Irish TV visited the Shackleton Autumn School last month. Catch up with their report on





Last Updated: 2 October 2015 - 10:05 am

Friday, 23rd October

Official Opening & Exhibition Launch

Book Launch

in Athy Heritage Centre – Museum.

In association with the History Press the school is delighted to host the launch of From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s ‘Antarctics’ in the First World War by Anne Strathie. From Ice Floes to Battlefields draws on previously unpublished journals, letters and other archive material to throw new light on the Terra Nova expedition and on ‘what happened next’ to Scott’s ‘Antarctics’, men who had taken part in Scott’s 1910-13 Terra Nova expedition and, in several cases, in Shackleton’s Nimrod and Endurance expeditions.



Daily Exhibitions – Athy Heritage Centre - Museum

10.00am – 5.00pm - "Life on the Line"

LIFE ON THE LINE celebrates the variety of existence in the circumpolar Arctic, in the face of overwhelming environmental and cultural change. Over a number of years, photographer Cristian Barnett has journeyed to the Arctic Circle, an invisible line of latitude 66 degrees and 33 minutes north of the Equator. The line intersects eight countries and is home to a rich diversity of peoples for whom the sun never sets in high summer, nor rises in deepest winter. This exhibition is drawn from his book Life on the Line, recently published by Polarworld and on sale in the Museum shop. All the photographs were taken on film within thirty-five miles of the Arctic Circle.


Saturday, 24th October

Lecture Series Athy Library

10.00am “Shackleton's Crossing of Antarctica – Could he have done it? ”
Robert Burton
Admission €10

10.50am TEA/COFFEE

11.20 “Captain Scott, The Modern Traveller ”
Dr Phillip Sidney
Admission €10

12.10 “Lessons from a Polar Explorer about Success”
Dr Jesús Alcoba
Admission €10


2.30pm “Survival and Sacrifice in Mars Exploration - What we know from Polar Expeditions"
Dr Erik Seedhouse
Admission €10

3.30pm “Scurvy and Polar Exploration”

Dr Kevin McKenna
Admission €10

4.30pm '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 Clanard Court Hotel, Athy Tickets €40

Sunday, 25th October Athy Library

Lecture Series

10.00am “Penguin legs are good cold" - notes from the Scott Polar Archives”
Naomi Boneham
Admission €10

10.50am TEA/COFFEE

11.20am 'Wintering over in Antarctica - 15 months at the French station Dumont d’Urville '
Samuel Blanc
Admission €10

12.10pm “Over by Christmas? Back by 1915? New worlds for Scott’s and Shackleton’s men."
Anne Strathie
Admission €10



Film Athy Library

2.30pm Antarctica – A Year On Ice

Antarctica: A Year On Ice is a visually stunning film that lets you experience what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, while enduring months of darkness in the harshest place on Earth.  Anthony Powell has been working in Antarctica with his wife Christine for many years. After over 10 years of filming, his documentary is now complete.  Anthony has had his work appear in numerous films, exhibits and TV shows. He most recently featured in the Emmy Award-winning BBC series, The Frozen Planet.

Admission €10

4.00pm Open Forum – Chaired by Bob Headland

Cultural Evening Athy Dominican Church


8.00pm Shackleton's Endurance

"Shackleton's Endurance" is a widely acclaimed re-telling of the story of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Craig Blackwell’s visuals, Brian Hughes' composition and John MacKenna's narrative capture the emotions underlying this epic tale, from the optimism of departure through shipwrecked desolation, and finally the euphoria of rescue. The performers will be joined onstage by Kildare County Orchestra, Monasterevin Gospel Choir and invited musicians.
Commissioned by Athy Heritage Centre-Museum with support from Kildare County Council's Arts and Library Services, the performance premiered in GBS Theatre Carlow as part of the 2014 Shackleton Autumn School. Composer and Athy resident Brian Hughes has seized on the recent availability of a suitable venue to fulfill his ambition of staging “Shackleton’s Endurance” in his and Shackleton’s home locality.

Admission €15

Monday, 26th October 2015

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 and Quaker Meeting House.
Fare €10

Information on Contributors

Cristian Barnett
Cristian is a professional photographer with over 15 years experience working with many of the best cookery book publishers and magazines as well as restaurants, hotels and other commercial clients. His recent book titles include Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes and Hope and Greenwood's Sweets Made Simple. Magazine work includes Country Living, Saga and House and Garden. His long-term project Life on the Line, a series of portraits shot along the Arctic circle, was published in September 2014.

Robert Burton
Robert Burton is a natural history writer who has been involved with South Georgia for many years. He visited the island for the first time in 1964 and returned in 1971 to study albatrosses and fur seals. From 1995 to 1998, he was director of the museum at Grytviken and started to collect information on the island’s history. This included researching the time that Shackleton spent on South Georgia. Bob now visits annually as a lecturer on cruise ships.

Dr Phillip Sidney
Philip Sidney is a freelance writer and researcher, currently at work on a literary history of Scott's last expedition. He completed his PhD thesis, Scott's Last Expedition and the Literature of Cold, at the University of Cambridge in late 2013. Philip has frequently presented on polar topics, most recently at the 'Heroes' conference held at the Royal Geographical Society; his writing has appeared in Polar Record, Critical Quarterly, Church Times and The Junket. Philip was a shortlisted candidate for the International Scott Centenary Expedition 2012.

Dr Jesús Alcoba
Jesús Alcoba MsC, MBA, PhD is the Dean of La Salle International Graduate School of Business. He has authored several scientific papers and books. His latest one is La Brújula de Shackleton (Shackleton´s Compass), a book that combines his research in personal success with the legendary Endurance expedition that was awarded as one of the best 2014 business books in Spain. He the author of, a website that narrates the Endurance expedition following Shackleton's “South”, and he has travelled to Antarctica to retrace some of its more breathtaking passages.

Dr Erik Seedhouse
Erik Seedhouse is a Norwegian-Canadian suborbital astronaut. After military service Erik pursued his Ph.D. at the German Space Agency’s Institute for Space Medicine. He found time to win Ultraman Hawaii and the European Ultra-man Championships as well as completing the Race Across America bike race. Erik won the World Endurance Triathlon Championships in 1995 and 1996, the World Double Ironman Championships in 1995 and the infamous Decatriathlon, an event requiring competitors to swim 38km, cycle 1800km, and run 422km. Non-stop. In 1997 GQ magazine nominated him as the ‘Fittest Man in the World’. Erik works as an astronaut instructor, professional speaker, triathlon coach and author. 

Dr Kevin McKenna
Dr Kevin McKenna was born in Belfast. He trained at Queen's University Belfast and Harvard Medical School, Boston. He is currently a consultant at the Belfast City Hospital. He has a life long interest in history and polar exploration. He is married to Gail and has five children.

Naomi Boneham
Naomi is the Archivist at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge. After studying mainly European history at University Naomi moved on to much more local records working in County Archives both before and after qualifying as an Archivist. In 2006 she switched from estate records to the frozen world of Arctic and Antarctic exploration. The SPRI Archives have provided an opportunity to combine her interest in cataloguing theory with the ability to remain in daily contact with researchers.

Samuel Blanc
Samuel Blanc was born in the Chartreuse mountain range in the heights of Grenoble in Isère. It was there that his passion for nature in general and for fauna in particular was born. Manager of projects targeting public schools, adults or students, he has led conferences, headed naturalist visits, and participated in audiovisual shows. After this he spent fifteen months in Adélie Land in Antarctica, on behalf of the CNRS and of the French Polar Institute in the framework of a research program on biology and ecology. On site, he was
responsible for the study and monitoring of populations of birds and of marine mammals.

Anne Strathie
Anne Strathie was born and educated in Scotland and now lives in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Before embarking on researching and writing Birdie Bowers: Captain Scott’s Marvel, she worked in business and the arts and heritage sector, including at Cheltenham’s Wilson Art Gallery & Museum. In the course of her research for Birdie Bowers and From Ice Floes to Battlefields, she travelled to New Zealand, Antarctica (Ross Sea) and World War One sites; she has given talks and taken part in events in Britain and New Zealand.

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.












Last Updated: 30 September 2015 - 10:00 am


The 15th Shackleton School will be launched at the showing of Frank Hurley's film 'South' at the Irish Film Centre in Dublin on Monday next the 5th October at 6.30pm.

For further details  -


Last Updated: 18 September 2015 - 5:01 pm


Scurvy and its impact on 19th & 20th Century Polar Explorers will be the focus of Kevin McKenna's lecture at the Shackleton School.

A Belfast based consultant, Kevin's talk will throw a modern light on the disease that was the scourge of early polar explorers and almost killed Ernest Shackleton on his first expedition south with Captain Scott.



Last Updated: 17 September 2015 - 9:59 am


The soon to be released Matt Damon film 'The Martian' explores how a lone man, a modern day Robinson Crusoe, might survive on Mars

Visitors to the Shackleton Autumn School  in October will be able to consider the similarities between polar exploration in the age of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and Mawson and modern attempts to send men and women to Mars in Dr Erik Seedhouse's lecture - 'Survival and Sacrifice in Mars Exploration'.

A lecture not to be missed!


Last Updated: 28 August 2015 - 10:23 am


In association with the History Press the school is delighted to host the launch of 'From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s ‘Antarctics’ in the First World War' by Anne Strathie. 'From Ice Floes to Battlefields' draws on previously unpublished journals, letters and other archive material to throw new light on the Terra Nova expedition and on ‘what happened next’ to Scott’s ‘Antarctics’, men who had taken part in Scott’s 1910-13 Terra Nova expedition and, in several cases, in Shackleton’s Nimrod and Endurance expeditions.

The launch will take place at Athy Heritage Centre Museum at 8pm on Friday the 23rd October 2015


Last Updated: 28 August 2015 - 10:03 am

Belfast native Dr Kevin McKenna's lecture - 'Scurvy and Polar Exploration' completes the line-up of lectures for the 2015 Shackleton Autumn School.


Last Updated: 21 August 2015 - 1:51 pm


As part of events for Heritage Week Event 2015, Athy Heritage Centre - Museum

will host 'An Introduction to the Shackleton Collection ' on Sunday 23rd August at 2.30 p.m.

It is a chance to see the more unusual items relating to the life and polar expeditions of Ernest Shackleton and a chance to quiz the resident expert on all aspects of Shackletons extraordinary life

Admission is free



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.