CROWDS travelled from all over of Ireland and abroad to Athy at the weekend to delve into the past and recall the life of explorer Ernest Shackleton.
Large numbers attended the ever popular 18th annual Ernest Shackleton Autumn School over the October Bank Holiday weekend. Theme lectures, book launches, exhibitions and culture night drew great interest and created a lively atmosphere.
“It is becoming more and more popular every year,” said manager and curator of the museum Margaret Walsh.
“People have a passion for the subject, visitors talk and popularity spreads with word of mouth, also climate change has become such a topical subject. It was an exceptional weekend and all of the speakers were brilliant.”
The Shackleton story is no doubt an interesting one. Shackleton’s Endurance crew of 28 set out in 1914 to make the first traverse of Antarctica via the South Pole, but the ship became trapped and crushed in pack ice. On April 24 1916 , Shackleton and five crew, including Irishmen Tom Crean and Tim McCarthy set out in a timber lifeboat on an 1,300 km sea journey to South Georgia to get help for their 22 comrades stranded on Elephant island. With no loss of life, it is regarded as one of the most famous sea rescues on record.
Athy Heritage Centre Museum is home to the only permanent exhibition in the world devoted to Ernest Shackleton.
The event was officially launched on Friday by Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland.
“She is a great supporter of the museum and wants to ensure that it is Ireland’s Polar Museum,” said Ms Walsh.
A completely new design and redevelopment of Athy Museum was launched at the weekend also and a substantial fundraising campaign will now get underway.
“There will be a complete redevelopment, structurally also with a new extension,” she said.
“It has to be updated with access to the two floors above.”
The building, which once housed Athy library, is community run and all support for the new project will be greatly appreciated.