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The "Shackleton Endurance" exhibition has 150 photographs and text boards telling the story of the most famous rescue in all maritime history. The venue is the Ferry Terminal building in Dun Laoghaire.
The Shackleton Endurance Expedition 1914-1917
Aiming to complete the first sea-to-sea land crossing of Antarctica by foot via the South Pole, in August 1914 Shackleton and his team of 27 scientists and seamen set sail from Plymouth aboard their ship, Endurance, just after the outbreak of World War I. They wouldn’t be heard from for nearly two years.
This compelling exhibition is the story of the men’s 22-month ordeal: the eerie beauty of Antarctica, the sinking of their doomed ship after it became locked in pack ice and was slowly crushed, the extreme hardships the men endured as they set up camp after camp on the drifting ice, their transfer to the relative safety of Elephant Island, and the expedition’s miraculous conclusion. That all 28 men survived their terrible adventure was a triumph of hope in the bleakest circumstances, and of faith in their leader—“The Boss”—an Irish-born doctor’s son whose achievements in polar exploration earned him a knighthood and, much later, cult status as an unparalleled role model for leadership in extreme circumstances: optimistic, tenacious and brave.
At the heart of the exhibition, accompanied by explanatory wall texts and diary excerpts from the journey, are Hurley’s dramatic black-and-white images of the expedition, some made from negatives retrieved by him from the freezing waters inside the Endurance just before she sank. Some of Hurley’s most compelling images are of the ship’s break-up. These are presented along with photographs of the men’s camps and their attempted march over snow and ice to reach open water. Startling original film-footage by Hurley, enhanced by computer animation, shows Endurance as she disappeared into the Weddell Sea.
A replica of the James Caird confronts visitors with the awesome challenge that Shackleton and his men faced in their rescue mission from Elephant Island, sailing an open boat across 800 miles in towering 60-ft waves and gale-force winds, with only a sextant, some charts, an unreliable chronometer and a few sightings of the sun to guide them to South Georgia.
Today their success in reaching South Georgia—and trekking 32 miles in 36 hours across its uncharted, mountainous interior to reach the whaling station on the other side—is widely recognised as maritime history’s greatest boat journey: a miracle of navigation, resilience and seamanship. This part of the story is illustrated beautifully by Hurley’s poignant photographs of Elephant Island, the rocky, inhospitable outcrop where the crew awaited rescue; and of the launching of the James Caird, the crossing and the rescue itself.
The exhibition will run for a period of two years, the venue is the Ferry Terminal building in Dun Laoghaire beside the DART and Bus terminus.