WATCH: Sea shanty for Shackleton as An Post celebrates Antarctic explorers with stamps

Kildare adventurer one of eight honoured

Leader reporter


Leader reporter


Kildare-born explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is one of eight Irish men who played a significant role in the Antarctic expeditions of the 1800s and early 1900s celebrated in a new series of stamps from An Post.

Four new stamps have been revealed, which also feature Kerryman Tom Crean; five men from Cork, Edward Bransfield, Patrick Keohane, Robert Forde and brothers Mortimer and Tim McCarthy; and Francis Crozier from Co Down.

The four stamps, two for national postage and two for international, and a First Day Cover envelope are available at selected post offices and

Leading Irish Illustrator David Rooney explained how he wanted the stamps to shine a light on the impact Irish men had on Antarctic exploration:

“Like most people I was aware of the Shackleton and Crean expeditions, it was fascinating to delve into the adventures of a figure like Francis Crozier, who set out in 1839 as commander of HMS Terror on the Ross expedition. Crozier, his ship and all of his crew were subsequently lost, along with Sir John Franklin, on their ill-fated search for the North West Passage in the Arctic just a few years later.” 

Mr Rooney also brought the four stamps to life in this video, showcasing the beautiful artwork set to a haunting sea shanty.

An Post expects strong interest in the stamps at home and abroad from collectors and those with an interest in explorers and Antarctic expeditions.

A native of Kilkea, County Kildare, born on February 15, 1874, Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Antarctic explorer who attempted to reach the South Pole, and is best known for the leading the expedition ‘Endurance’ of 1914-1916.

He joined the merchant navy when he was 16 and qualified as a master mariner in 1898. In 1901, he was chosen to go on an Antarctic expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott on the ship ‘Discovery.’ During this expedition, they came closer to reaching the South Pole than anyone had come before, but Shackleton became seriously ill and had to return home. In 1908, he returned to the Antarctic as a leader of his own expedition, on a ship called Nimrod. His team came closer to reaching the South Pole than ever before, coming within 97 miles of it. He was knighted upon his return.

In 1914, he made his third trip to the Antarctic, leading an expedition aboard the ship Endurance. Early in 1915, Endurance became trapped in ice, and his crew abandoned the ship to live on the floating ice. In April 1916, the crew set off on 3 small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island. Shackleton and 5 others – including Tom Crean - went to find help, a treacherous journey across the ocean to South Georgia. In August 1916, the remaining members of Endurance were rescued. Shackleton’s rendition of this journey was published in 1919 under the title ‘South.’

His 4th expedition aimed to circumnavigate the Antarctic ocean, aboard the ‘Quest’ but on the 5th of January 1922, he died of a heart attack. He was buried on the island of South Georgia – where his wife Emily said he was happiest.