Tom Crean - Internationally Renowned Artic Explorer
Tom Crean from the shorelines of west Co. Kerry, lived his young life close to the raging Atlantic Ocean and in his boyhood envisaged riding over the deep seas of the world.
The family lived at Anascaul, near Dingle, and life for a family depending on a small farm holding, to support ten offspring, was tough and demanding. The Kerry explorer was already exploring his mind for an escape to a new land filled with promise and hospitality. At the tender age of fifteen, Tom hatched his own plan to run away from home and somehow worked his way across the Irish Sea to England in 1892.
His dream of a life on the sea became a reality when he forged his age as sixteen to gain entry as a boy recruit to the English Navy. Tom Crean soon recognised that he made the correct decision and applied himself diligently to learning the countless intricacies of survival and seamanship.
Crean’s prowess was soon recognised by the navy and he gained swift promotions, enabling his elevation to the much sought torpedo school. Another equally confident seaman studying this new weapon was Robert Falcon Scott, an English officer with designs of his own to achieve fame as a famous explorer.
Scott had visions of taking on the Antartic and his determination suitably impressed his navy superiors. He became the leader of three Antartic expeditions prior to World War 1 and amongst his specially chosen team was Tom Crean.
The first expedition was made in 1901 and the second in 1910. Both explorations were described as lacking in leadership and it was the Kerryman’s skill, courage and initiative that enabled the crew to survive. In 1912 Crean’s exploration contributions were recognised when he was presented with the Albert Medal for Bravery.
In 1914 another British Antarctic exploration was led by Kildare born Ernest Shackleton, a renowned seaman.
He sought Tom Crean as his chief commander. A fifteen day voyage by boat men in an open boat (The James Caird) from Elephant Island to South Georgia became legendary worldwide.
Tom Crean finally decided to return to his native land at Anascaul, where he built and ran a family pub.
He died in 1938, aged sixty one years.