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Tom Crean (Thomas Crean)

Tom Crean

Thomas “Tom” Crean (20 July 1877 – 27 July 1938), is an Irish seaman and Antarctic explorer from Annascaul in County Kerry. He was a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, including Captain Scott’s 1911–13 Terra Nova Expedition. This saw the race to reach the South Pole lost to Roald Amundsen and ended in the deaths of Scott and his polar party. During this expedition, Crean’s 35 statute miles (56 km) solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to him receiving the Albert Medal for Lifesaving. Tom Crean had left the family farm near Annascaul to enlist in the Royal Navy at the age of 15. In 1901, while serving on Ringarooma in New Zealand, he volunteered to join Scott’s 1901–04 Discovery Expedition to Antarctica, thus beginning his exploring career. After his Terra Nova experience, Crean’s third and final Antarctic venture was as second officer on Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, on Endurance. After Endurance became beset in the pack ice and sank, Crean and the ship’s company spent 492 days drifting on the ice before a journey in boats to Elephant Island. He was a member of the crew which made an open boat journey of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia, to seek aid for the stranded party. Tom Crean’s contributions to these expeditions sealed his reputation as a polar explorer, and earned him a total of three Polar medals. After the Endurance expedition, he returned to the navy; when his naval career ended in 1920 he moved back to County Kerry. In his home town of Annascaul, Tom Crean and his wife Ellen opened a pub called The South Pole Inn, where he lived quietly and unobtrusively until his death in 1938.


  • July, 20, 1877
  • Gurtuchrane, Annascaul, County Kerry, Ireland


  • July, 27, 1938
  • Cork, Ireland


  • Ballynacourty
  • Annascaul, County Kerry, Ireland

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