UKC

Tom Crean

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 TimFoley50 01 Oct 2021

Hi everyone and I figure that many hill walkers and climbers are already aware of Tom Crean. If not, then his is a jaw-dropping and inspirational story. This is my first post here and I, like many others, don't welcome the use of forums to self-promote particularly if that happens in a maiden post.

As the author of two books about Crean, his biography and a children's book, which I won't make mention of here, I have been a long-time student of Crean who was born a few miles from my father in beautiful County Kerry. I want to provide an update that is significant whether you're aware of Crean or not. 

After researching Crean's life for over 3½ years, I submitted all of my research to the Royal Irish Academy and in light of what I discovered, the article entry for Tom Crean was substantially revised in the Dictionary of Irish Biography in March 2021. The changes include replacing inaccuracies that had populated his story for many years and a host of fresh information that has previously been missing from his timeline. 

Having read a number of archived posts here that repeat the falsehoods about Crean I felt compelled to at least raise awareness that the Crean's story has changed up and his travels and his reputation are greater than was previously known.

It would be great to hear from members here who may already be aware of Crean and if anyone wishes to discover more about his amazing story I'd be happy to chat about my favourite subject. 

In reply to TimFoley50:

I'd never heard of him, so I looked him up.  He's certainly an interesting character.  Why not tell us more?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Crean_(explorer)

Post edited at 02:30
 Maggot 02 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

OK, but what has he done on Grit?

 Kean 02 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

What an incredible character. True grit. 

 Slackboot 02 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

I have been aware of the quality of men like Crean, Wild, Worseley and others for many years. Not so much Shackleton now sadly as my opinion has changed over the years. Crean in particular has always come across as totally reliable, honest and brave. A true understated hero. I am so glad that you are suggesting that your research seems to confirm this fact.

 Lankyman 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Slackboot:

> I have been aware of the quality of men like Crean, Wild, Worseley and others for many years. Not so much Shackleton now sadly as my opinion has changed over the years. Crean in particular has always come across as totally reliable, honest and brave. A true understated hero. I am so glad that you are suggesting that your research seems to confirm this fact.

I know Shackleton was a self-promoter but the only thing I didn't really like from what I've read was the way he treated the carpenter, without whom they'd have all been dead. The cat should have been spared too.

 Slackboot 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

Yes I know what you mean. The fact that McNish didn't get the Polar Medal seems petty. But I suppose we are judging extraordinary events second hand from the comfort of our own armchairs. 

 Hat Dude 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Slackboot:

I have long been an admirer of Tom Crean, his solo 35 mile walk which saved the life of Edward Evans on the Terra Nova expedition, was an immense feat.

I still want to get to The South Pole Inn at Annascaul and  have a drink in his honour.

My opinion of Shackleton has also diminished a bit. particularly when I read of the ordeal of The Ross Sea party who were supposed to lay down the caches of supplies to meet The Endurance expedition

 TimFoley50 02 Oct 2021
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Well it's been recorded over four separate events during his time on the three expeditions he served on to Antarctica, that he was either solely or jointly responsible for the saving of 29 lives. That's a lot of descendants living today who exist because of Crean's bravery.

For his 35 mile solo trek in 1912, in order to save the life of Edward Evans, during the last supporting party's return from the Polar Plateau, Crean was awarded the Albert Medal. It was the story that played out with Scott that took centre stage when they reached the Pole to discover that Amundsen had made it there before them - sadly they all perished on their return. Crean's heroics in the opposite journey back to Hut point was, quite naturally, overshadowed by the sad drama of the Polar party's return journey.

The Wikipedia page you link to here Tom was changed recently because of the new information and had it been the same Wikipedia article that existed before August I would have urged people not to read it for the misinformation it contained. Still more changes required though.

 TimFoley50 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

I'm with you on that and McNish, in my opinion, should have been, (should still be- posthumously), awarded his polar medal . His skills in adapting the James Caird lifeboat were vital to ensure its successful crossing to South Georgia in what would become the greatest survival and rescue story in maritime history. 

 Trangia 02 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

I am curious about the archived posts on here which required correction from falsehoods. I can't find any reference to Tom Crean in the archive search engine?

Like others I'd certainly be interested to read more about him on here, and thank you for raising awareness of his life story.

 Slackboot 02 Oct 2021

I thought one of the saddest things about the Endurance expedition was the fact that after surviving such perils and hardship many of the crew were to lose their lives on the Western Front in the months following their return.

 TimFoley50 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Trangia:

Hi, I carried out my search of older posts and came across recommended reads of books that I know contain inaccuracies about Crean - it was during my research for instance that I discovered he was almost 16½ years old when he joined the Navy, not 15 nor did he have to lie about his age. In 1893 when Crean signed up, boys were actively recruited by the Navy from the age of 15. He was the seventh born of 11 children with 7 brothers and 3 sisters, (not one of ten with 5 brothers and 4 sisters), his mother passed away 20 years later than has been written and there are many other instances, too many to mention. For any historical biography accuracy to the degree by which a source of information can be qualified, is essential in my eyes. Frustratingly, there is myself and those who've read my book, who are aware of the facts hence me raising awareness of them when I'm able. 

 Lankyman 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Hat Dude:

> My opinion of Shackleton has also diminished a bit. particularly when I read of the ordeal of The Ross Sea party who were supposed to lay down the caches of supplies to meet The Endurance expedition

It's years since I read a book about these men (was it the Aurora?). It was of course an epic in itself but since they were completely out of contact with Shackleton, and so had zero knowledge of his fate, how could that have a bearing on your opinion of 'The Boss'? No-one is perfect but I think of all the polar greats, Shackleton seems to have been the most respected (loved?) by men he led. And he did get to within a hundred miles of the pole sledge hauling (and back safely).

Post edited at 13:41
In reply to TimFoley50:

I knew the name from the Shackleton connection so whilst I was out in Kerry a few years ago I recognised it when I saw a star in the pavement outside Dick Mack's pub in Dingle.
Quite a character.

 TimFoley50 02 Oct 2021
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

Crean was a friend of Dick MacDonnell and that star was among the first to be laid down outside the pub. When I was researching the book I chatted with his son Oliver in the back room of the pub and he told me that Crean would often wear an overcoat in summer. It's as if he was literally chilled to the bone but that's hardly surprising I guess given that he'd spent almost a third of his Naval career on expeditions to Antarctica.  

In reply to Hat Dude:

I had a pint of Guinness in the South Pole last month. Cracking boozer.

 Slackboot 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Cú Chullain:

Did the South Pole have much in the way of photos or memorabilia displayed relating to Tom Crean?

 Hat Dude 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

There was no way they could have known what was happening to the Endurance party.

My feelings relate to them seeming to have been very under resourced for the task they were expected to carry out. Shackleton should have had equal responsibility for the whole of his expedition including the Ross Sea party yet they seem to have been very low on his list of priorities.

 TimFoley50 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Slackboot:

Yes, the walls all around the pub are adorned with photos of Crean.

 Slackboot 03 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

Another thing which really saddened me about some of the crew after the expedition was that men like Wild and McNish were obviously intelligent and capable. They both contributed hugely to the crews eventual safe return. Yet they were both to have difficult personal lives with McNish dying penniless and destitute. How can this happen to men of such quality? No doubt other less well known of the returned crew had a similar fate.

It is as if the expedition had a negative affect upon their later lives. Speculation of course. Maybe there were aspects of their character that were always going to make life a challenge for them and the expedition was an opportunity to bring out some of their outstanding qualities.

 Lankyman 03 Oct 2021
In reply to Slackboot:

> It is as if the expedition had a negative affect upon their later lives. Speculation of course

Possibly the First World War? While they were down south a far greater event was enveloping Europe. I believe Shackleton had offered their services on the outbreak but had been told to carry on. If the war hadn't happened perhaps they would have been welcomed home as heroes instead of just a minor sideshow. I think a similar effect occurred with the Titanic. Big at the time but overtaken in public consciousness by the huge tragedies a few years later. It was only much later in the century that the story of the ship (and the polar expeditions) came back into the picture.

 W3 10 Oct 2021
In reply to TimFoley50:

It's now 21 years since I read the book but I remember  Michael Smith's  biography, An Unsung Hero Tom Crean- Antarctic Survivor, painted a picture of Crean as an impressive individual. 


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