How well do you know these Legendary Irish Maritime Explorers?

Ireland has produced some of the most well-known explorers the world has ever seen! They’ve discovered new continents and tested their limits in some of the harshest conditions on the planet! Test your knowledge and see how well you do in our explorer quiz!

1. Shackleton left something buried in the snow on the Nimrod expedition. A 100 years later is was rediscovered and recreated - what was it?

Shackleton's leadership skills are legendary so it’s no surprise he brought only the best whiskey to sustain his men! After he was forced to turn men back on the Nimrod expedition due to brutal conditions he left behind cases of whiskey buried under the snow. A century later some of these were uncovered and the long lost rare Highland malt has now been recreated!

2. What small pet did Tom Crean smuggle onboard the Terra Nova?

Tom Crean the legendary Kerryman and polar explorer and all-round nice guy was a complete animal lover. On his second polar expedition on board Scott’s Terra Nova he smuggled on board his pet rabbit. The ship was already packed with 65 men, 34 dogs and 19 Siberian ponies and so this small bundle hopped aboard unbeknown to Scott and his crew. Crean found a comfortable spot for his rabbit to nest among the horse fodder. A month into the trip the rabbit gave birth to 17 babies.

3. Corkman Edward Bransfield was the first to sight where?

Edward Bransfield, a Cork-born sailing master was the first to sight the Antarctic mainland. On 30th January 1820 he sighted the Trinity Peninsula - the northernmost point on the Antarctic mainland. He charted parts of the Trinity Peninsula following the edge and discovering various sites on Elephant and Clarence Island. His legacy remains in the name Bransfield Island, Bransfield Strait, Bransfield Trough, Bransfield Rocks and Mount Bransfield that were all named in his honour.

4. What was the name of Francis Crozier’s ship that was discovered last year - 170 years after it mysteriously disappeared?

The HMS Terror was part of Sir John Franklin’s doomed Northwest Passage Expedition. The expedition was last spotted in July of 1846 and what happened next is shrouded in mystery and speculation. The HMS Terror along with the HMS Erebus embarked on Franklin’s expedition to find a way through the Northwest Passage. In 1845 the two ships sailed into the freezing waters North of Canada never to be seen again. Irishman Francis Crozier, from Banbridge Co. Down, took the helm of the HMS Terror. Last year the HMS Terror was located by the Arctic Research Foundation.

5. Which Irishman solved the mystery of what happened to Francis Crozier and the Franklin expedition?

Captain Francis Leopold McClintock from Dundalk gained fame for solving the mystery of the Franklin expedition. During his service in the Royal Navy he became involved in a series of searches to uncover what happened to Franklin and his ill-fated expedition. Over tens years had past since the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus vanished into the icy waters above Canda. In the summer of 1859 McClintock led a sledge party to King William Island. While searching through the icy wasteland he stumbled upon a message, buried inside a cairn on Victory Point, left by fellow Irishman Captain Francis Crozier saying that Franklin had died on June 11, 1847 along with 23 crew members and the ships and been stuck in ice and had to be abandoned.

6. Sir Robert Mcclure was the first man to successfully cross what?

Sir Robert McClure was a proud Wexford man. In 1850 he was sent to uncover what happened to the Franklin expedition. His ship got stuck in the thick ice of Mercy Bay. Despite the harsh conditions, when a lesser man would have given up, McClure continued onward. Him and his men abandoned ship and proceeded on foot through the icy hell to Beechey Island. Trapped on the ice, things were looking dire for his men and they were unlikely to survive winter on the ice. Help came from another Irishmen Captain Henry Kellet of Tipperary on his ship the HMS Resolute. Eventually McClure made it through the passage and when he returned home he received a knighthood, £10,000 prize reward and a Patron’s Gold Medal for being the first man to traverse the Northwest Passage.

7. A pretty famous desk was made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute. In which notable office is the desk still in use?

The HMS Resolute was commanded by Irishman Captain Henry Kellet. In April of 1853 they found and rescued Sir Robert McClure whose ship became stuck in ice while searching for the Northwest Passage. The Resolute was however also doomed to get trapped in ice and was abandoned. The ship was later recovered by Captain Buddington on an American whaler ship and returned to Queen Victoria. Timbers from the ship were later used to construct a desk which was given to the President of the United States. Known as the Resolute desk it is still used by the US President today in the Oval Office.

8. Tim McCarthy sailed with Shackleton on the Endurance - he was awarded polar medal for his acts of bravery but never received it - why?

Cork born Tim McCarthy was one of the five men that accompanied Shackleton on the small lifeboat James Caird as they embarked on an epic 800 mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Tim was an accomplished seaman and Shackleton thought very highly of him. After the Endurance expedition he joined the Royal Navy Reserve as a Leading Seaman but just three weeks after signing up his life was cut short at the age of 28 when he was killed in action on board the S.S. Narragansett, an armed British steam tanker. She was hit by a torpedo from a German U Boat and went down off the south-west coast of Ireland. Sadly he was never able to receive his polar medal.

9. Ireland’s most famous adventurer Brendan the Navigator went in search of which legendary island?

St Brendan, the patron saint of seafarers and travellers, was born in Annagh Co. Kerry in 484. He is possibly one of Ireland’s well know adventurers. He loved travelling and was a skilled sailor, embarking on many journeys on his coracle (a small type of boat). His best known adventure was when he set out in search of the Island of the blessed. The adventure is chronicled in a 9th century manuscript called the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis - the Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot. This voyage lasted seven years and is filled with many fantastically tales and adventures. During this voyage he came across many new lands and may have been the first to discover America.

10. What was the name of the feline companion on board the Endurance?

Despite his name Mrs Chippy was actually a tom cat belonging to Harry McNeish the ship’s master shipwright and carpenter. He was a friendly affectionate cat and followed McNeish wherever he went. Shackleton was glad to have the cat aboard as he was a great mouser and rat catcher. Perce Blackborrow, a stowaway who boarded the Endurance in Buenos Aires and wasn’t discovered for three days became firm friends with the cat and is pictured with the cat on his shoulder in one of the only photos of Mrs Chippy. The cat wasn’t the only animal on board there were also 69 dogs and several pigs!

How did you do? Why not have a go at one of our other quizzes!

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22

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