Recently I met up with Michael Smith, the author of ‘Ernest Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer’.
Michael was launching his latest book, a biography on Shackleton, an Irish polar explorer. Ernest was born in Kildare and as a young man his family moved to England.
At one point he worked for the White Star Company, you know the one, with the Titanic connection.
It seems Shackleton always wanted to be at sea, expressing an interest at an early age, but this time 100 years ago, he was at sea on his Endurance journey where he ventured to the South Pole via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands.
Unfortunately he never actually reached the pole. He did however show great leadership skills and made the decision to save his men’s lives and turn back, and also to save his own life for his lady back home.
I was particularly interested in the Falklands and South Georgia Islands connection as I have been there myself, although not 100 years ago! A mere 21 years ago. I was also fascinated to learn the Shackleton is actually buried on South Georgia.
I was there as a weatherman to work for five months on my own mini adventure in the early 1990’s.
For me, it was the days pre digital photography, pre internet and pre mobile phones and that made it pretty remote. I can only imagine the journey Ernest went on, 80 years before that, with much less technology!
All these thoughts of adventure encouraged me to get out my photo album of the time and start reliving some of the wonderful memories.
Memories of the wildlife mostly, but of one particular trip flying from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia. Flying over the islands where I now know Shackleton is buried, flying over enormous glaciers and also over colonies of penguins.
But my adventure pales into insignificance when I think that Ernest was away from home a lot as he travelled the seas exploring and leaving Ireland with an unsung hero who’s story is recaptured in what is a fantastic story by Michael Smith.
Shackleton – By Endurance We Conquer by Michael Smith is published in hardback by The Collins Press, price £20.00. It is available in all good bookshops and online from www.collinspress.ie.