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Dáil Question on commemoration for Ernest Shackleton

DAIL QUESTION

NO. 13 and 27

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to commemorate the exploits of Ernest Shackleton during 2014 as it is the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Endurance Expedition in 1914; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 6th March, 2014.

Ref No: 10742/14 Lottery: 33 Proof: 33

R E P L Y

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 27 together.

The increasing interest being shown in the heroic activities of Irish-born Ernest Shackleton and his companions, in this centenary year of the Imperial Trans- Antarctic Expedition, 1914–1917, is a welcome development.

In these days of easy travel and general convenience, it is almost impossible for us to imagine the challenges and discomfort suffered by the explorers on those polar explorations and to appreciate the heroic achievements of those involved, including several Irishmen. Following on the loss of the expedition ship Endurance, trapped in the ice from January 1915 until finally crushed in November 1915, the 800 mile journey of Shackleton, Worsley, Crean, Vincent, McCarthy and McNish, from Elephant Island to South Georgia in April 1916, is renowned as a truly amazing achievement. Across the years, it testifies to the fortitude of the group and their heroic resilience, seamanship and survival skills.

I am pleased to note the various projects in development in Ireland and abroad to mark the centenary of this historic expedition. Against the background of the World War and the Irish revolution, it offers an insight into a bygone age. Keeping tightly to the historic timeline, this expedition – from outset to conclusion – will feature in the overall narrative of centenary times being prepared in the commemorative programme and which I will continue to monitor.