Tom Crean was the unsung hero of the heroic age of Polar exploration, an indestructible character who sailed on three of the four great British expeditions with Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton to the Antarctic. He ran away from home at the age of 15, spent longer in the icy wilderness than either Scott or Shackleton and outlived most of the era’s more notable figures.
But Crean never spoke about his exploits and he became a forgotten figure until publication of his first biography, An Unsung Hero in 2000.
An Unsung Hero became a No 1 best-seller in Ireland and has since been published in the UK, US and Italy. The book brought Tom Crean’s outstanding life to wider audiences for the first time and brought him the recognition which eluded him in life.
Crean volunteered for Scott’s Discovery expedition between 1901-04 and was among the first recruits when Scott returned to the Antarctic in 1911 for his tragic last expedition. Crean was among the last see Scott alive 150 miles from the South Pole and
Following publication of An Unsung Hero, a statue was erected to Crean outside his home at Anascaul, County Kerry Sir Edmund Hillary travelled from New Zealand to open a major public exhibition about his life and Guinness themed a television advertisement about the Irishman. Songs have been written, award-winning stage plays performed and a TV documentary has been broadcast. For first time, Irish children are being taught the story of Tom Crean in schools.
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