The ship’s cabin in which famed polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton died in 1922 could be on its way to his birthplace of South Kildare.
The great explorer, who was born at Kilkea in 1874, passed away from a heart attack on board ‘The Quest’ while on a voyage to his fourth Antarctic expedition. He was laid to rest at a little whalers’ cemetery on the island of South Georgia.
The ship returned to England in July 1922, and was bought back by its original Norwegian owners, who removed and preserved the cabin.
The cabin was passed down in the family, and is now under the care of Ulf Bakke.
Mr Bakke and his partner, Hege Olsen, visited the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum on Friday, March 7, to discuss the possibility of the Kildare museum acquiring the cabin on loan from the family.
The Athy Heritage Centre-Museum has the world’s only permanent Shackleton exhibition. It also hosts an annual international Shackleton Autumn School, featuring exhibitions and lectures on polar exploration.
Margaret Walsh, of the Athy centre, said informal discussions have been taking place over the past couple of months in relation to relocating the cabin to Athy.
Several museums across the world have expressed interest in acquiring the cabin, but Mr Bakke’s primary concern is to secure an appropriate home for the historic artefact his family have lovingly guarded for over 90 years, she said.
“They want the public to be able to see it as well,” she said, adding that the visitors were impressed with the care and display of artefacts in Athy.
She said that the Norwegians enjoyed their visit to South Kildare, staying locally and even pulling a pint in Frank O’Brien’s bar on Emily Square.
Local council officials and politicians have backed the project. It would require considerable financial funding to provide a suitable home for the cabin in Athy, but the community-run museum is confident this could be achieved.