The 2nd Annual Ernest Shackleton Autumn School

The Athy Heritage Centre-Museum has established the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School to celebrate the life and work of the great Antarctic explorer in the area of his birth.


Thursday 24th October – Arts


8.00 pm Travel and Exploration: Readings and Exhibition Launch


Athy Community Library
Readings and launch of an exhibition of work created during a series of creative writing workshops held throughout County Kildare during the weeks leading up to the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School, and facilitated by travel writer, Mary Russell, Writer in Residence at Kildare County Council.
To book a place on the workshops contact the Kildare Library and Arts Services at 045 – 448318
Supported by Kildare Library and Arts Services and The Arts Council


Friday 25th October – Official Opening


7.00 pm Athy Heritage Centre
Official Opening of the second Ernest Shackleton Autumn School by The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, Ernest Shackleton’s Grand-daughter.
Followed by concert: Liam O’ Flynn and The Piper’s Call Band


Friday 25th October – Concert


9.00pm Concert by Liam O’Flynn and the Pipers Call Band.

The Dominican Church, Convent Lane, Athy
Admission €15
Together with the band’s regular repertoire, this concert will feature the world première of Endurance a piece of music composed by Liam O’Flynn and inspired by Shackleton’s renowned expedition to the Antarctic. Endurance was commissioned by Athy Heritage Centre to celebrate Shackleton’s association with the area of his birth and was grant-aided by the Arts Council of Ireland with joint sponsorship by the Bank of Ireland, Athy. Liam O’Flynn, a seminal figure of Irish traditional music, is a native of County Kildare and now lives near Athy. He came to maturity as a master piper at a time of immense musical innovation in Irish music. He has been open to every kind of challenge from his early days as a founder member of Planxty, to his orchestral work with Shaun Davey in “The Brendan Voyage”, and his collaboration with artists as diverse as John Cage, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, Mark Knopfler and the Poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. In the Pipers Call Band, Liam is joined by Arty McGlynn (guitar), Frank Gallagher (keyboard and fiddle) and Danny Byrt (percussion). “There has always been a classical quality about Liam O’Flynn’s playing, a level confident strength: you feel that he is unshakably part of a tradition.behind these tunes you can hear freedom as well as discipline, elegy as well as elation, a longing for solitude as well as a love of the seisiún.”


Saturday 26th October – Lecture Series


10.00 am ‘Antarctic Exploration Ancient and Modern’
Lecture by Dr. Robert Headland, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

11.30 am ‘Shackleton’s World and the Passion for the Poles’
Lecture by Francis Spufford, Author
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

2.30 pm ‘The Literary Element: Shackleton as Reader and Writer’
Lecture by Dr. Jan Piggott, Archivist, Dulwich College (Shackleton’s old school)
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

3.30 pm ‘Travel and Digression’
Lecture by Mary Russell, Author and Travel Writer
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

4.30 pm ‘Displaying Antarctica’
Lecture by Helen O’Carroll, Curator, Kerry County Museum
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

Saturday 26th October – Arts


8.00 pm Drama: Now We Go Home
Athy Community Library
Play on Words Theatre Company in association with The Greenwich Maritime Museum and Spectrum Theatre Projects presents Now We Go Home. Now We Go Home a one-man-show by Galway man Aidan Dooley, is a biographical dramatisation of the life of Tom Crean, from Annascaul, Co. Kerry who served both Shackleton and Scott in the Antarctic. Now We Go Home was commissioned by The National Maritime Museum,Greenwich for their award winning museum exhibition South during 2001.
Aidan Dooley has worked with Spectrum Theatre Projects developing various performance pieces for museums throughout England.
Admission €8

Sunday 27th October – Field Trip

10.00 am Morning Field Trip
Admission €8
Meet at Athy Heritage Centre
Field Trip to sites related to Shackleton in South Kildare


Sunday 27th October – Lecture Series


2.30 pm ‘Shackleton’s Rescue Mission’
Lecture by Trevor Potts, Outdoor Education Specialist
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

3.30 pm ‘Living in Antarctica’
Lecture by Brendon Grunewald, Physicist
St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Offaly St.
Admission €6

Sunday 27th October – Arts


11.00 am – 2.45 pm
Admission Free
Workshop in Athy Community Library
(break for lunch at 1.00)

3.00 pm Performance in the People’s Park (weather permitting) or Athy Community Library.
The artists of Fluxusdance and choreographer, Cathy O’Kennedy will lead a session for children on the art and skills of making dance. The children will be encouraged to use their imagination to create a dance on the story of Ernest Shackleton’s life and explorations. It will culminate in a public performance. Stories in Time is an ongoing project devised by Cathy O’Kennedy, which creates dances with and for local communities.
Cathy O’Kennedy is dance artist-in-residence at the Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

8.00 pm, Athy Community Library
Mend & Makedo Theatr Company presents:
“Then You’ll Remember Me” Admission €5
A dramatisation of the love letters of Ernest and Emily Shackleton with music of the period with John MacKenna , Paula Dempsey, Chris Fingleton, Caitriona Ni Fhlaithearta and Mairead O’Flynn

10.00 pm, O’Briens Pub, Emily Square
Bluegrass Session with Athy Bluegrass Music Association
Ongoing Exhibitions


10 am – 5.30 pm Open Daily
Ernest Shackleton Exhibition
Athy Heritage Centre
Admission €2.50/2.00
Includes a scale model of the Endurance, artefacts relating to Shackleton’s expeditions Artefacts relating to his Quaker ancestry in South Kildare and an audio-visual display.


1.00 – 4.00pm Saturday 26 October

Travel and Exploration
Athy Community Library, Gallery
Exhibition of work created during a series of creative writing workshops in the weeks leading up to the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School and facilitated by Travel writer, Mary Russell.

Information on Contributors


The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton
The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton is the only grandchild of Ernest Shackleton. She studied at Trinity College Dublin. She speaks, writes and broadcasts on the subject of Shackleton and has done so many times in America, and most recently in Japan as guest speaker for the Japanese national première of the IMAX film Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure. As a consultant for historical research on Shackleton, she advised on the Channel 4 First Sight Film drama Shackleton starring Kenneth Branagh. She is the patron of several Polar expeditions and has visited the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.


Dr. Robert K. Headland
Dr. Headland is the archivist and curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute, at the University of Cambridge. His specialities are the history and geography of both Polar regions. His research has involved stays of two winters on South Georgia and voyages to the region over about 20 years. His involvement with the Antarctic Heritage Trust has concerned the preservation of the historical huts and other sites associated with exploration and discovery in the Antarctic.


Francis Spufford
Francis Spufford is a writer and journalist based in London. His cultural history of the British fascination with polar exploration, I May be Sometime won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Writers Guild Award for best non-fiction book of the year. His new book The Child that Books Built is a memoir of a childhood as a compulsive reader. Reviewing it in the Irish times, Siobhan Parkinson wrote “I burnt the soup, almost let the bath overfill and even managed to block out the excruciating traffic jam that is the Bray dual carriageway”.


Dr. Jan Piggott
Dr. Jan Piggott, studied English at Oxford and taught at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. More recently he taught at Dulwich College in London for thirty years, as Head of English. Now retired from teaching, he is Keeper of Archives at the College, custodian of the James Caird whaler and the Shackleton Collections. In 2000 he curated the exhibition Shackleton – the Antarctic and Endurance at Dulwich College.


Mary Russell
Mary Russell was born in Dublin and studied Arts at University College Dublin. Her career in travel writing escalated with a four-part series on solo women travellers for the Guardian Newspaper. In 1998, Mary was invited to contribute to Penguin’s Amazonian, a collection of new travel writing, by women. Her most recent book Journey’s of a Lifetime examines the places Mary has visited and the reasons for travelling to these destinations. Mary was selected by Kildare Library and Arts Services to facilitate a series of creative writing workshops throughout County Kildare on the themes of exploration and endurance, to lead up to and co-incide with the 2nd Ernest Shackleton Autumn School.


Helen O’Carroll
Helen O’Carroll MA is the Curator of Kerry County Museum. She has recently curated the ‘Antarctica’ exhibition at the museum. The exhibition concentrates on three of the most famous Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century: Discovery, Terra Nova and Endurance using the Kerryman, Tom Crean as the focus.


Trevor Potts
Trevor Potts works freelance as an Outdoor Education Teacher, Antarctic Cruise Lecturer and Motivational Speaker. Trevor was one of a five member team which took part in The Shackleton Memorial Expedition when a team of five including Trevor successfully completed Shackleton’s route across South Georgia in March 2001. In addition to a number of sailing expeditions, he has also kayaked in Arctic Norway, Canada and Alaska including kayaking across the Bering Strait in 1989. He is currently setting up an Outdoor Education Study Centre on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula the most westerly part of the British mainland.


Brendon Grunewald
Brendon overwintered in Antarctica (Dec. 1992 – Feb. 1994), as a physicist, studying Aurora, VLF, Ozone, the Earth’s magnetic field and Earth Ionosphere waveguide properties. In 1999 Brendon founded the Antarctic News and information website, which is a leading independent Antarctic resource on the internet. In December 2001, 70south was selected to participate in the 2001 Students on Ice expedition to Antarctica, which included a tour of the Antarctic Peninsula.


John MacKenna
Writer and broadcaster, John MacKenna lives in Athy, Co. Kildare. He has won a number of awards including a Hennessy Literary Award and the Irish Times Fiction Award. He has edited the Annals of Ballitore written by the Quaker writer, Mary Leadbeater, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Great Aunt. He has written a number of novels including The Last Fine Summer and The Haunted Heart. He is co-writer with Jonathan Shackleton of Shackleton-An Irishman in Antarctica which is due for publication shortly.

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