10 facts about Tom Crean you didn’t know

An extraordinary Irishman who didn’t like to boast of his extraordinary feats, it is perhaps no surprise that there are many facts about Tom Crean that you may not know.

10 facts about Tom Crean you didn't know

As a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica which occurred through what was referred to as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’, Tom Crean built his legend through his heroic actions and the extraordinary feats that he completed on them.

Tom Crean became famous in particular for his roles in the Terra Nova and Discovery expeditions which were led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole and also on Ernest Shackleton’s mission onboard the ship Endurance.

The most famous expedition of the three that Tom Crean was involved in was the infamous Terra Nova Expedition (1911-1913) which was led by Robert Falcon Scott. In this article, we will list 10 facts about Tom Crean that you most likely didn’t know.

10. The Albert Medal for Lifesaving – for his role in extraordinary expeditions

Tom Crean was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving.
Tom Crean is left. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Thanks to the miraculous and heroic feats completed by Tom Crean on the three major expeditions he took part in, he was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving.

9. He was a Kerryman – from the Kingdom and proud

He was a Kerryman – from the Kingdom and proud
Annascaul Valley, Co. Kerry. Credit: godo godaj / Flickr

Tom Crean was born in Annascaul in County Kerry, the earliest documented date of his birth is 16th February 1877.

8. He was an avid animal lover – one of the best facts about Tom Crean

He was an avid animal lover – one of the best facts about Tom Crean

Tom Crean was an avid animal lover, there is a famous picture of him on one of his expeditions with a clutch of husky pups in his hands and a smile on his face. He even snuck in a pet rabbit with him on the Terra Nova expedition.

7. He never lied about his age to join the navy – a fallacy proven beyond doubt

He never lied about his age to join the navy – a fallacy proven beyond doubt
A statue of Tom Crean in his hometown. Credit: geograph.ie

It was a common misbelief that Tom Crean lied about his age to join the navy when he was around 15 years old but it has now become an indisputable fact that he joined the navy when he was closer to 16½-years-old.

The confusion is believed to have occurred because of a naval error which recorded an incorrect date of birth.

6. He had a huge family – coming from good stock

Inside the South Pole Inn. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Tom Crean was born one of eleven children to Catherine Crean née Courtney. He had seven brothers and three sisters.

5. He later owned a pub in Kerry – pouring pints for fellow Kerry men and women

He later owned a pub in Kerry – pouring pints for fellow Kerry men and women
Credit: @irish_pubs / Instagram

Tom Crean returned to his native Kerry after his Antarctic expeditions and in 1916 he purchased a building that would later go on to be transformed into the famous pub “The South Pole Inn” after he was granted a publican’s licence in 1917. The pub is still open to this day and is a big tourist attraction in Annascaul.  

4. He was also prevalent during the North Russian Expedition – more than just Antarctic exploration

He was also prevalent during the North Russian Expedition – more than just Antarctic exploration
The HMS Fox. Credit: wikipedia.org

Besides being an integral part of three major Antarctic expeditions, Tom Crean also played a very important and active role as a Boatswain Warrant Officer during HMS Fox’s role in the North Russian Expedition.

3. He passed away aged 61 – a long and eventful life

Tom Crean passed away aged 61.
Credit: @date_facts_MR / Twitter

Tom Crean died on 27th July 1938 at the age of 61 years old. His cause of death was an infection which developed as a result of an operation a week earlier. He was buried in his family’s tomb at the cemetery in Ballynacourty, Corkaguiney, County Kerry.

2. He spent more time in the ice and snow than his more famous explorers – he also outlived them

Captain Robert Scott. Credit: Australian National Maritime Museum / Flickr

Tom Crean spent time with both world-famous explorers Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton during his Antarctic expeditions and while not being remembered as famous as them he did spend more time in the ice and snow than either of them, he also went on to outlive both of them.

1. The greatest act of bravery in the history of Antarctic exploration – a legendary Irish explorer

The greatest act of bravery in the history of Antarctic exploration – a legendary Irish explorer
Credit: @cheapsellotape / Twitter

Number one on our list of facts about Tom Crean is that he performed what many say was the greatest single-handed act of bravery in the history of Antarctic exploration when one of his companions, Lt Evans, collapsed 35 miles from safety.

In search of help, Crean courageously volunteered to undertake a hazardous journey across treacherous terrain in sub-zero temperatures with virtually no food and no sleeping bag or tent. His trek for help lasted over 18 hours but was successful and Lt Evans was saved.

That concludes our list of 10 facts about Tom Crean that you most likely didn’t know. Did you happen to know any of them already?

Credits

We’d like to give a big thanks to the following excellent resources for their information about Tom Crean:

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Conor Wickham is a writer from County Wexford with a keen interest in discovering everything Ireland has to offer. From sleeping in tree houses in the Ox Mountains to staying in shepherd huts in Donegal, Conor has experienced it. With a degree in Marketing & Advertising with Online Media, Conor has used his love of writing to guide his career path and has worked as a Website Content Writer/SEO Specialist in the past. When not exploring Ireland and finding out its secrets, Conor can usually be found hiking or working on his long awaited (long awaited by him at least!) supernatural thriller novel series.