Shack­le­ton beats Neil Arm­strong as he is voted the great­est ex­plorer

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Lynne Kelle­her [email protected]­sun­day.ie

IR­ISH po­lar ad­ven­turer Ernest Shack­le­ton has been voted the great­est ex­plorer of the 20th cen­tury.

A new BBC se­ries, Icons, is tak­ing on the task of as­sess­ing the achieve­ments of the last cen­tury’s most im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial fig­ures by pub­lic vote.

Seven well-known ad­vo­cates each ar­gue the case for four peo­ple from dif­fer­ent fields – lead­ers, ex­plor­ers, sci­en­tists, en­ter­tain­ers, sports stars, artists and writ­ers, and ac­tivists.

At the end of each doc­u­men­tary, view­ers vote for their favourite and the icon who wins the pub­lic vote in each cat­e­gory is put through to a live fi­nal where the great­est per­son of the 20th Cen­tury will be de­cided.

The pub­lic voted the Kil­dare man their favourite ex­plorer this week ahead of the first man on the moon, Neil Arm­strong, desert ex­plorer Gertrude Bell and Jane Goodall, renowned for her study of chim­panzees.

The leg­endary Antarc­tic pi­o­neer will now be in con­tention with Nel­son Man­dela, who won the leader cat­e­gory.

The ex­plorer from Kilkea, Co. Kil­dare, led the fa­mous En­durance ex­pe­di­tion to Antarc­tica in 1914 when he was 40 years old.

Pre­sen­ter Der­mot O’Leary, who pre­sented the ex­plor­ers’ doc­u­men­tary this week, de­scribed Shack­le­ton as a man who was the ‘epit­ome of courage, sur­vival, lead­er­ship and en­durance.’

He said: ‘He was born in Ire­land and as the son of Ir­ish im­mi­grants my­self, a lot of my an­ces­tors worked in the sea, his story has al­ways meant a great deal to me.’

Shack­le­ton’s Trans-Antarc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion was an at­tempt to make the first land cross­ing of the Antarc­tic but the ship and its 28-man crew were trapped in pack ice.

Their ship was crushed and sank on Novem­ber 21, 1915, strand­ing the crew on the ice.

Shack­le­ton and five oth­ers hero­ically made an 800-mile open boat jour­ney in tiny lifeboats to reach South Ge­or­gia, cross­ing the is­land on foot to raise the alarm, be­fore re­turn­ing to res­cue those still stranded. Mr O’Leary said: ‘What Shack­le­ton achieved... hasn’t come close to be­ing sur­passed in 100 years.’

tough: Antarc­tic ad­ven­turer Ernest Shack­le­ton made a heroic jour­ney to res­cue his crew mem­bers

first man on moon: NASA’s Neil Arm­strong

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