Kinsale to mark death of town's Endurance hero

March 15th, 2017 5:35 PM

By Southern Star Team

Timothy McCarthy was on the Endurance with Shackleton and travelled with the explorer to South Georgia

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KINSALE History Society will host a wreath-laying ceremony at the bust of the McCarthy brothers on Pier Road in the town.

The ceremony will take place on Thursday March 16th at 6pm to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Antarctic hero, Timothy McCarthy.   

Born at Lower Cove, Kinsale on July 15th 1888, like many of McCarthy’s generation, he served  his seamen’s  apprenticeship in the Royal Navy, before reverting to civilian life in 1905.

In 1913 he applied to take part in the Endurance Trans Antarctic Expedition under the stewardship of veteran polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.

His application was accepted, possibly as a result of the exploits of his older brother, Mortimer, who had already earned a silver Antarctic medal. Mortimer also had a mountain named after him as a result of his actions with Captain Falcon Scott,
in a 1910 expedition. 

The faith of the Endurance crew is now legendary, when the men were forced to abandon the ship, after it became trapped in the region’s infamous pack ice, eventually leading to the ship disappearing beneath the depths of the cold waters.

With little chance of rescue, Shackleton led his men across the treacherous pack ice and open sea, reaching the relative safety of Elephant Island. 

From there he set out with his most experienced sailors, including Tom Crean and Timothy McCarthy, in the James Caird, a small open boat.

They set off to raise the alarm at the whaling station at South Georgia, almost 500 nautical miles away. 

With the skill of the boat’s navigator, Frank Worsley, and the  seamanship of Timothy McCarthy, (whose outstanding helmsmanship guided the boat through the worst of the South Atlantic’s storms), Shackleton made landfall at South Georgia and eventually rescued the remaining crew on Elephant Island.

Returning to  Britain, McCarthy re-enlisted in the Royal Navy, but lost his life on March 16th 1917, when the oil tanker, the Narragansett, was torpedoed by a Germany submarine.  

Mortimer then collected Timothy’s silver polar medal, which was awarded posthumously in 1920.

The medal was sold to a private collector at auction last year in London for £65,000.

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