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Ernest Shackleton

Fact title Fact data
Kilkea, Ireland
Known for:
Polar explorer and pioneer. Led the famous ‘Endurance’ expedition

Adventurer and man to get you out of jam, Ernest Shackleton escaped after being stranded in Antarctica

Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.

1. He had ‘Endurance’ in more ways than one

Shackleton was probably tempting fate in 1914 when he set off in his boat, Endurance, on an expedition to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. Still, it was a quality he and his crew all shared. After the ship got trapped in the ice and eventually sank, they were all left stuck on a vast bit of ice for over two months.

2. He never lost hope

Shackleton and his crew escaped in lifeboats to the tiny Elephant Island… but it was uninhabited and inhospitable. Not one to be deterred, Shackleton went out in search of help – no mean feat when they were 800 miles from civilisation. First, he sailed with five of his men across near frozen seas in one of the tiny, open lifeboats. Then, having landed on the island of South Georgia, he had to lead a mountain climbing expedition, with no map, across the island before eventually reaching a base on the other side.

3. He got everyone home

Without the modern aids of radios, GPS or emergency helicopters Shackleton achieved the near impossible. Once he reached help, rescue parties were sent for his crew and, remarkably, every single member made it home. One of his contemporaries later commented, whatever qualities other polar explores, like Scott of the Antarctic or Roald Amundsen, had: "when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton."