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.
The man who would later be remembered for his heroic endeavours in completing an epic and selfless solo march to save the life of Lt. Edward Evans, on Scott’s ill fated Terra Nova Expedition, and for countless acts of sheer bravery and humanity on Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition, was buried a week later.
He was carried by friends and Naval comrades and placed in the family tomb, which he had built himself, beside his daughter Kate, who had died on 8th December 1924 at the tender age of four.
Despite the many tributes for Crean, including one from the by now Admiral Sir E.R.G.R. Evans, few of his friends and family would have realised the enormity of the achievements of the man they had just laid to rest. Crean, for a variety of reasons had divulged very little of his Antarctic exploits, and although he received many glowing mentions in the memoirs of his comrades, his story remained largely untold, until the publication of Michael Smith’s excellent biography An Unsung Hero, in 2000.
Reference – An Unsung Hero by Michael Smith
Portrait Of Tom Crean Antarctic Explorer is a piece of digital artwork by Andy Walsh which was uploaded on July 26th, 2017. The digital art may be purchased as wall art, home decor, apparel, phone cases, greeting cards, and more. All products are produced on-demand and shipped worldwide within 2 – 3 business days.