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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: 20 August 2014 - 11:14 am


2014 marks the centenary of the Endurance expedition, regarded as one of the greatest survival stories ever told.
A significant missing in the existing narrative is the recounting of the story through words and music. These media are highly appropriate: Shackleton found subtle and powerful expression in his own writing. His respect for music was part of his deep and instinctive insight into people; music was ranked as an expedition essential, evidenced by the centrality of the ship's gramophone and Hussey's banjo.
However, as was the norm, Endurance diaries and anecdotes describe the timeline - events and facts – with only an odd glimpse of what was going on for the emotional being. And yet, that's where motivation, vision, and indeed endurance itself originate.
Shackleton's lyrical sigh of relief on reaching Stromness Whaling Station expresses so much more than its words :

We had suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man…..

“Shackleton's Endurance” is curated by Athy Heritage Museum and sponsored by Kildare Library and Arts Services. John MacKenna's words and Brian Hughes' music capture the emotions underlying the key stages of the expedition. The tempo ranges from the optimism and hope of the departure in August 1914 against darkening clouds of war, through the despair of losing the ship, to the mutual joy as Yelcho hoves to off Elephant Island.

This is a unique and innovative contribution to the commemorative repertoire of the Endurance expedition. It will be available in CD form from September, and a premiere performance will form the Arts stream of this year's Shackleton Autumn School.


Last Updated: 1 August 2014 - 10:25 am







The final Lecturer confirmed for the 2014 Shackleton School is Tim Jarvis. His lecture is titled – 'Never the lowered banner – The Shackleton Epic Expedition'


Last Updated: 23 May 2014 - 2:38 pm


The Shackleton School is pleased to confirm the following lectures for this years school.

Further details of the full programme will be posted online in June.


 Michael Smith - “Shackleton”


Huw Lewis Jones - “Crossing of Antarctica”


Rorke Bryan - "Antarctica Then and Now: A Continent Tamed?"

P. J Capelotti - "Shipwreck at Cape Flora: The Expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, Englands Forgotten Arctic Explorer"

 Dr Rip Bukeley -  'The Bellingshausen opportunity: the Russian Antarctic Expedition, 1819-1821"

Dr C. L. Devlin - 'On the Natural History of Arctic Fauna:A Correspondence between James Lamont and Charles Darwin, 1860 to 1871'


Dr Bernard Stonehouse - 'Emperors and kings: tales of an Antarctic biologist'.


Jim Mayer - 'Shackleton – A Life in Poetry' –


Last Updated: 31 March 2014 - 12:20 pm


Preliminary details of the 2014 School will be announced shortly.





Last Updated: 5 December 2013 - 4:21 pm



This issue of Nimrod features the address President Michael D. Higgins made to the 12th Autumn School, reminding us of the unique character and achievements of Shackleton. Shackleton's contemporary, Roald Amundsen, whom Shackleton described as 'perhaps the greatest Polar explorer ' writes of his formative influences and his 'first' expedition in a piece extracted from his autobiography.

Edward J. Larson examines a lesser known aspect of Shackleton's expeditions posing the question: Did Shackleton care about science?, while William Barr details the breakdown of interpersonal relationships on Filchners Second German South Polar Expedition.

Shackleton's youthful escapades are amusingly described by Jan Piggott in his piece on Shackleton's childhood in Sydenham while the lives of the many 'usung' Irishmen on Scott's last expedition are recalled by Micheal Smith. Robert Burton casts a fresh light on the time spent by Endurance at South Georgia with much fresh material hitherto unavailable.

 Another Kildare link with the Antarctic is explored in Kevin Kenny's article on Captain Oates and his life in Ireland stationed with his regiment on the Curragh. Further Irish links with Antarctica are comprehensively dealt with by Robert Headland in survey of Antarctic Place names with Irish origins. Following on from his treatment of stamps commemorating Shackleton in last year's Nimrod this year Jim McAdam look at the coins issued in Shackleton's memory.

Copies of Nimrod can be ordered from Athy Heritage Centre-Museum. For contact details go to the website -


Last Updated: 24 October 2013 - 11:31 am


Friday, 25th October

7.30pm Wine Reception


Official Opening & Exhibition Launch by the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Dr Ruth Adler.

8.00pm in Athy Heritage Centre – Museum.





Daily Exhibitions – Athy Heritage Centre - Museum


10.00am – 5.00pm - Mawson's Men

On display for the first time in Ireland the exhibition gives a rare glimpse into the daily lives of the men of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) led by Sir Douglas Mawson. The exhibition showcases the lives of the 32 men who took part in the Expedition which set out to investigate a section of the ‘practically unknown Antarctic coast’ and conduct numerous scientific studies. The exhibition features photographs taken by some of the expeditioners: Frank Hurley, Xavier Mertz, who died during the expedition, and Frederick Gillies. Mawson's first experience of Antarctica was as member of the scientific team on Shackleton's Nimrod expedition (1907-1909), where he was part of the three man team to reach the magnetic South Pole.


The Exhibition was produced by the Australian Antarctic Division of the Australian Government, which is responsible for ‘Advancement of Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic by protecting administering and researching the region.’




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


Saturday, 26th October


Lecture Series Athy Library


10.30am “Hoosh, Roast Penguin, Scurvy day, and other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine

Jason Anthony

Admission €10


11.30am COFFEE


12.00 Geopolitics in the Freezer: Current and Future Challenges Facing Antarctica

Professor Klaus Dodds

Admission €10




2.15pm 'Sea Ice and Shackleton's Expeditions'

Professor Peter Wadhams


Admission €10



3.15pm '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


4.15pm COFFEE


4.30pm “The Franklin Expedition – Did they try to Sail Home ”

Dr Maria Pia Casarini

Admission €10




8pm Autumn School Dinner in Clanard Court Hotel, Athy


Sunday, 27h October Athy Library


Lecture Series


10.00am “Polar Otherworlds: Dreams and Ghosts in Arctic Exploration "

Dr Shane McCorristine

Admission €10


10.50am COFFEE


11.10am “Sixty Years on Ice”

Dr Charles Swithinbank

Admission €10


12.10pm “They Also Served: A Look at the Hundreds of Participants of the Heroic Age Behind the Familiar Names ”

Joan Boothe

Admission €10




Film Athy Library


2.30pm “Bare et Liv”

The film, a Norwegian/Soviet co-production, made in 1968 is a dramatised account of the life of the Norwegian Polar Explorer and Humanitarian Fridjof Nansen



Presented by Geir O. Kløver


Admission €10


4.00pm Open Forum – Chaired by Bob Headland

Cultural Evening Athy Community Arts Centre





8.00pm Redemption Song


Written and performed by John MacKenna
Directed by Marian Brophy.

Redemption Song is a beautiful play - hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad.
Joe is a small-time builder. As he says himself: "If you never get too big, you never go out of business."
Joe's marriage to Mary has broken up and their son has been executed.
There's also the question of whether the young man really is Joe's son?
Work and music have been Joe's answer to every problem life has thrown at him.
And then, one evening, two young men call to his door with stunning news - they've given a lift to a hitch-hiker and they swear the man is Joe's dead son.
Everything changes - "If a man has hope, he has something."
Redemption Song is a powerful and gripping contemporary retelling of an old story.

Admission €10






Monday, 28th 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 and the Shaker Store.

Fare €10


Information on Contributors


Jason Anthony

Jason is the author of Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine published by the University of Nebraska Press. The book has recently received an award from the Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Award. Prior to this he worked with the United States Antarctic Program for eight austral summers. He is currently teaching in Maine.


Professor Klaus Dodds

Klaus is Professor of Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2005 he received the Phillip Leverhulme Prize for his work in the field of Geopolitics and Human Geography and is the Editor of The Geographical Journal. He is an expert in the area of international governance of the Antarctic and the Arctic. His publications include The Antarctic: A Very Short Introduction and Pink Ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire. He is working on a new book with Mark Nuttall entitled A Scramble for the Poles? The Contemporary Geopolitics of the Arctic and Antarctic.


Professor Peter Wadhams

Currently Professor of Ocean Physics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Peter has a long association with the polar regions. He spent 11 months on the "Hudson-70" Expedition which accomplished the first circumnavigation of the Americas, He has led over 40 polar field expeditions including a project mapping the thickness of sea ice in the Arctic from Submarines. He has published extensively on sea ice in academic journals.

Dr Maria Pia Casarini

Dr Casarini is Director of the Istituto Geografico Polare 'Silvio Zavatti", Italy, which celebrates its 50th year in 2013. A leading researcher on the Franklin expedition she has lectured extensively on the subject and has analysed the diaries and letters of Lady Franklin in the Archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute, to determine the role that Lady Franklin played in the searches for the lost expedition of her husband.


Dr Shane McCorristine

A native of Dublin, Shane is a cultural geographer and historian who lectures at Downing College, University of Cambridge. He published in 2010 Spectres of the Self; Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-Seeing in England, 1750-1920. He has applied this interest in the supernatural to an ongoing study of  its influence in the narrative of nineteenth century Arctic exploration and he has been recently  shortlisted for the AHRC/BBC Radio 3 Next Generation Thinkers Award.


Dr Charles Swithinbank

Charles is a world renowned scientist who has worked extensively in the polar regions with UK, US and Russian research programmes. He was assistant Glaciologist on the 1949-52 Norwegian-British-Swedish Expedition and was instrumental in recognising the potential of Antarctica's blue-ice fields as wheeled aircraft runways. He has published a number of books on his polar work including An alien in Antarctica,Vodka on Ice, Foothold on Antarctica and Forty Years on Ice. Six geographic features in Antarctica are named after him. He has been twice honoured by the Queen.


Joan Boothe

Based in San Francisco Joan has an MBA in Finance and from 1990 to 2000 was an adjunct faculty member at St Mary's College in Moraga, California. In the spring of 2010 she taught a course at Stanford University on the history of Antarctica's Heroic Age. In 2011 her critically acclaimed book The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery and Adventure in the Antarctic Peninsula was published. She is currently researching her next book on all the men who served in Antarctica in the Heroic Age.


Geir O. Kløver

Geir has been the director of the Fram Museum in Oslo since 2005. He has edited and published the diaries of Roald Amundsen and 14 of the other crew members of the Norwegian South Pole Expedition 1910-12. He is currently editing the collected diaries of Fridtjof Nansen and the crew members of the First Fram Expedition. From 1997 to 2005, Geir worked as project director in a Norwegian human rights NGO providing media and communication support to Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. He worked primarily on projects related to Tibet, Burma, East Timor, the Korean peninsula and the AIDS issue.



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.


John MacKenna

John is a novelist, short-story writer and dramatist and co-author of Shackleton – An Irishman in Antarctica published in 2003 which gave a new insight into the family background of one of Kildare’s most famous sons. His most recent book is a poetry collection Where Sadness Begins published by Salmon Books in 2012.


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.




PH - (00353) 059-8633075 or email





Last Updated: 11 September 2013 - 5:16 pm

The Shackleton school is pleased to confirm that the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Ruth Adler will open the exhibition 'Mawson's Men' at Athy Heritage Centre-Museum on the 25th October at 8pm.


Mawson's expedition Ship S.Y Aurora in the Antarctic - one of the many images featured in the forthcomng exhibition.



Last Updated: 11 September 2013 - 4:58 pm



The Shackleton school is pleased to anounce the lectures for this year's school -

Jason Anthony - 'Hoosh, Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine'

Dr Shane McCorristine "Polar Otherworlds: Dreams and Ghosts in Arctic Exploration"

Prof Peter Wadhams,  - 'Sea Ice and Shackleton's  Expeditions'.

Prof Klaus Dodds,  - 'Geopolitics in the Freezer: Current and Future Challenges facing Antarctica'

Joan Boothe- 'They Also Served: A Look at the Hundreds of Participants of the Heroic Age Behind the Familiar names.'

Dr Maria Pia Casarini - 'The Franklin Expedition - Did they try to Sail Home?'

Dr Charles Swithinbank - 'Sixty Years on Ice'


The full schedue for the Autumn School will be posted soon.




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.