Tom Crean’s Death – The Tragedy & The Erroneous Obituary.

Tom Crean’s Death.

July 27th 1938 – Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” – George Eliot

One of the last known photographs of Tom Crean

One of the last known photographs of Tom Crean.

For many years it had been thought that Tom Crean was born on July 20th 1877, that is until Kay Caball discovered his birth certificate, which proved that he was in fact born on February 25th 1877. July 20th however is still a date that will always feature in the life story of the man from Annascaul, who had taken part in three major Antarctic expeditions. Tragically it was on that day in 1938, that his untimely demise was set in motion.
The Irish Giant, as he had been called by those that served with him, and had witnessed, first hand, his immense and heroic contributions, suddenly began to feel quite unwell.

Tom had complained of acute stomach pains, and had began vomiting. He was rushed to Tralee hospital, which was situated about 16 miles from his home at the South Pole Inn. Appendicitis was quickly diagnosed, but in a cruel twist of fate, there was no surgeon on duty to perform the necessary operation. A transfer was arranged to the nearest available hospital, which was the Bon Secours in Cork, but it lay a damning 75 miles away.
Creans appendix had burst prior to its removal and infection quickly took hold. His condition deteriorated over the course of the following week, while his loving wife Nell kept vigil with him throughout his final days, as he drifted in and out of consciousness. On July 27th 1938, Tom Crean slipped into un-consciousness and from this world, as unassumingly as he had lived his humble post Antarctic years.

The funeral of Tom Crean, was as large a gathering of mourners, as the village of Annascaul had ever witnessed. Tom had been an extremely popular character, and despite almost refusing to speak about his heroic past, most of his friends and neighbours were aware of his exploits to some extent.Tom was buried at Ballynacourty cemetery, in a tomb he had built himself. He was laid to rest beside his daughter Katie, who had died of ill health, at the tender age of four.
Placed on top of the tomb was a glass case of porcelain flowers, a tribute from Edward Evans, the man who’s life Crean’s solo march had saved, in February 1912. It read, “In affectionate remembrance from an Antarctic comrade.”

Crean’s passing was widely reported and his death would have caused quite a shock, and conjured great sadness among his former exploration comrades.  Continue Reading →

On This Day July 27th 1938 – Tom Crean Dies.

The Death of The Irish Giant, Tom Crean.

Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” – George Eliot

For many years it had been thought that Tom Crean was born on July 20th 1877, that is until Kay Caball discovered Tom’s birth certificate, and pin pointed his earthly arrival to February 25th 1877. But July 20th is however still a date that will always feature in the life story of the great man from Annascaul, and tragically it was on that day in 1938, that his untimely demise was set in motion.

Tom had complained of acute stomach pains, and had began vomiting. He was rushed to Tralee hospital, which was situated about 16 miles from his home at the South Pole Inn. Appendicitis was quickly diagnosed, but in a cruel twist of fate, there was no surgeon on duty to perform the necessary operation. A transfer was arranged to the nearest available hospital, which was the Bon Secours in Cork, but it lay a damning 75 miles away.

Creans appendix had burst prior to its removal and infection quickly took hold. His condition deteriorated over the course of the following week, while his loving wife Nell kept vigil with him throughout his final days, as he drifted in and out of consciousness. On July 27th 1938, Tom Crean slipped into un-consciousness and from this world, as unassumingly as he had lived his humble post Antarctic years.

“Home is the Sailor
Home from the Sea”

Epitaph on tomb of Tom Crean – from Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Continue Reading →

Disappearance In Antarctica – The Pirlo Expedition

Olaf Pirlo was not the first man to disappear in Antarctica on a quest to reach the South Pole, but his attempt did have many unique elements, which had become necessary in order to capture the public imagination. Ever since Roald Amundsen reached the Pole in December 1911 and Scott and his team perished on their return journey having arrived there a month later, the South Pole had been considered well and truly conquered. For men who still yearned to take up the challenge and raise the funds to do so, there had to be some new slant to the journey, to afford it the title of some form of First.

Continue Reading →