Shackleton 150 Anniversary

The 24th Annual Shackleton Autumn School will take place

8th to 10th November 2024

in the Abbey Court Venue, Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Bookmark this page and check back regularly as the programme develops.

08/11/2024 to 10/11/2024

Tickets not yet available



Updated 20/06/2024 Friday  08/11/24 – Sunday 10/11/24 Speakers and events. (Subject to change)
Programme under development
Friday 8th November Various ‘masterclasses’ with Athy School students (confined event)
– Masterclass with a Master Sculptor, hosted by Mark Richards
– ‘Geography and Mapping’ masterclass with Philip Curtis
9th & 10th  November Jan Chojecki

Exploration in Colour – the colour photography of the Shackleton-Rowett (Quest) Expedition 1921-1922

A unique opportunity to hear Jan Chojecki, whose grandfather John Quiller Rowett financed the ‘Quest’ expedition, share what he has discovered in the photographs (some previously unseen) of the expedition.

  Philip Curtis The Mapping of Antarctica – An examination of maps illustrating the discovery of the Terra Australis Nondum Cognito, the “Unknown Southern Land”. Ranging from the beautiful and wildly speculative charts of the Age of Discovery through to the superb and evocative maps of the Heroic Age, we will be looking at the extraordinary stories and people that lay behind their creation.
  Laura Kissel

Under the North Pole: Sir George Hubert Wilkins and the voyage of the Nautilus

Hubert Wilkins stands as one of the most accomplished of all the polar explorers. A man of many parts, his polar activity saw him airborne, on the surface and even beneath the ice while his theatres encompassed both the Arctic and the Antarctic. He accompanied Ernest Shackleton on the Shackleton-Rowett expedition as ornithologist.

With her professional role as curator of  the Polar Archives in Ohio State University where Sir George Hubert Wilkins’ papers are held, Laura’s lecture promises to fill in the background and events of that first submarine journey under the ice.

  Buddy Levy

Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk 

Buddy Levy’s recent book on Stefansson’s Karluk expedition combines his interests in exploration and history with his professional life as a journalist and academic.

Aboard Karluk were  oceanographer James Murray and physician/biologist Alistair Forbes Mackay, both of whom had been with Shackleton on Nimrod on the British Antarctic Expedition (1907-09). The Karluk story is of particular interest  as broadly speaking,  it provides an Arctic contrast to Shackleton’s Endurance  – and with very different outcomes for the fate of the crew.

And who better to tell us the story but Buddy himself.

Peter Straughan Shackleton, A Hero Of Our Time – Peter Straughan had to get upclose and personal with the Boss as he developed the screenplay for  StudioCanal’s forthcoming feature film ‘Shackleton’. Here is what he learned about the character behind the person.
  Sabina Waldron Sailor, Explorer, Writer: Frank Worsley in the Heroic Age and beyond – Frank Worsley was well regarded by Shackleton and the officers and crew of Endurance. Rock solid as a ship’s captain, and a navigator par excellence on the James Caird, the seemingly unperturbable ‘Wuzzles’ was always the cool head when cool heads were needed. Find out more of the life and times of this enigmatic character.



Participant Biographies

Jan Chojecki image

Jan Chojecki

Jan Chojecki is the grandson of the businessman and philanthropist John Quiller Rowett, the financer of the Shackleton-Rowett (Quest) Expedition. Jan is the author of The Quest Chronicle, published in 2022, the first book in almost a century to cover the events and circumstances of the final expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Jan has also published a book containing the World War 1 letters of his great uncle, in We Are All Flourishing – the Letters and Diary of Captain Walter JJ Coats MC, 1914–1919. Covering the entire period of the war, it gives a comprehensive and personal account of life on the front line with the infantry battalion the Glasgow Highlanders. Jan is a bio-scientist by training and has spent his career working in public sector technology transfer and early stage technology investment. More information at
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Philip Curtis picture

Philip Curtis

Philip joined the auctioneers Christie’s in 1984, becoming Head of the Map Department two years later. In 1992 he became Director of The Map House in Knightsbridge, London. Established in 1907, The Map House is the oldest and largest specialist antique map sellers in the world.
While having a deep passion for all things cartographic,he has always been particularly fascinated with the charts of the discovery and mapping of “Terra Australis Incognita”, the Unknown Southern Land.
In 2012 Philip co-wrote “The Mapping of Antarctica” which focused on the maps from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and the extraordinary stories and people behind them.
He is  very proud that my book, on sale in the UKAHT shop in Port Lockroy, made me, if only briefly, the best-selling author across an entire continent!
Laura Kissel picture

Laura Kissel

Laura Kissel is the Polar Curator for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center Archival Program, a position that she has held since 1996. She has a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from Kent State University (Ohio). The Polar Archives holds hundreds of collections, including the Papers of Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Sir George Hubert Wilkins. Laura’s primary responsibilities include assisting the many researchers and scholars who use the collections, as well as donor relations, exhibitions, and other education and outreach activities.
Buddy Levy (credit Alaina Mullin)

Buddy Levy

Buddy Levy is the author of nine nonfiction books, most recently Empire of Ice & Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk, which won the 2023 National Outdoor Book Award (USA). He has written two other books on the subject of polar exploration, including Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition; and the forthcoming (Jan ’25) Realm of Ice and Sky: Triumph, Tragedy, and History’s Greatest Arctic Rescue, which chronicles the first attempts to reach the North Pole by dirigible. Levy was co-star of HISTORY Channel’s TV series DECODED and he frequently appears as an on-camera expert guest on a slate of HISTORY Channel television programming.
As a freelance journalist he has covered adventure/expedition subjects around the world, including in Argentina, Borneo, Greenland, Morocco, the Philippines, and Svalbard. His interests are wide-ranging, often detailing riveting human stories of survival. He lives in Idaho, USA. 

Mark Richards

Mark Richards is a sculptor specialising in fine figurative work. His technique draws on a tradition wherein sculptors receive comprehensive instruction in design, technique and execution and work mainly on commission. He was taught by A J Ayres who, in turn, had worked with Eric Gill.
His preference is to work with people and within supportive, creative environments with the often collaborative nature of working with both committees and individuals.
Mark’s works have a worldwide footprint; in Ireland – Nicky Rackard (Wexford), Big Tom (Monaghan), Roger Casement (Dun Laoghaire), ‘Squires’ Gannon (Kildare) and of course his landmark statue of Ernest Shackleton unveiled in Athy, 30th August 2016, the centenary of the rescue of the Endurance crew from Elephant Island.

Peter Straughan

Peter Straughan is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, originally from the North East of England. His films include The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Debt, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ( Best Adapted Screenplay BAFTA, Best British Film BAFTA, Best Adapted Screenplay Academy nomination), Frank (Best Screenplay British Independent Film Award) Our Brand Is Crisis, The Goldfinch and Wolf Hall (Best Drama BAFTA, Best Mini-Series Golden Globe).
Upcoming work includes the film Conclave and The Mirror and The Light – the sequel to Wolf Hall – and the George Harrison biopic for the forthcoming Beatles Films to be directed by Sam Mendes.
Sabina Waldron photo

Sabina Waldron

Sabina Waldron is a history enthusiast who splits her time between land and sea, working as a translator and professional sailor. This past spring she was given the opportunity to work on the barquentine Antigua sailing around Svalbard, putting a nice feather in her cap after several years reading, writing, and thinking about nothing but polar exploration. Originally from the northeast United States, she now lives in Germany and the Netherlands.

08/11/2024 to 10/11/2024

Tickets not available yet