On This Day – February 15th 1874

The Birth Of Ernest Shackleton

Kilkea, Co. Kildare

On this day in 1874, Ernest Shackleton was born on his families farm at Kilkea, near Athy in Co. Kildare. His father came from an English Quaker background, his ancestors having fled to Ireland in the early years of the 18th century. Shackleton’s mother was from the Fitzmaurice clan of Co. Kerry.
Ernest was the second of ten children and was the oldest son, and when he was 10 years old the family moved to London. Somewhat against his fathers wishes Shackleton joined the merchant navy at the age of 16.

In 1901 he left for Antarctica with Robert Falcon Scott, on the Discovery Expedition, and he Scott and Wilson would set a new ‘Farthest South’ record of 82º 17’S on December 30th 1902. All three men, but Shackleton in particular, would suffer greatly on the return journey, due to frostbite and scurvy, and when they eventually returned to the ice-bound Discovery on 3rd February 1903, after a round trip of almost 1,000 miles, Shackleton was invalided home on the relief ship Morning, on Scott’s orders.

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