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Charlie not first to honour Crean

Sir -- Although Eddie Naughton points out that Charlie Bird's Antarctic Adventure (Sunday Independent, April 24, 2011) "failed to do neglected hero justice", for my part I found it rather interesting.

Just over 20 years ago I befriended Tom Crean's grandson, who introduced me to his remarkable grandfather. Gerard gave me a copy of Profile: Thomas Crean by the American, Judith Lee Hallock, issued in 1984, and although the highly regarded Capuchin Annual had in 1952 an article by D Barry -- "Polar Crean" -- it was, as Eddie recorded, the English biographer Michael Smith, with his An Unsung Hero, published in 2000 that brought the story of Tom Crean to a more general readership. We must also acknowledge Aid Dooley's one-man show which complemented Michael Smith's book and was performed at home and abroad.

Charlie's programme was presented almost as a ground-breaker, yet in December 2003 RTE showed an excellent documentary called Tom Crean. Charlie could have mentioned Tim McCarthy from Cork, whom the "Boss" selected to join the "James Caird" for that epic journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia which LIFE magazine reckons was one of "The Greatest Adventures of All Time" (2000). Incidentally, the "James Caird" was part of "The Endurance" exhibition, which I viewed in 1999 at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York.

Before we leave Charlie, his love-in with the baby seal provided a very welcome light relief from his sombre reflections on hunger and hardship.

Finally, as Eddie remarked, the ethos of the New Ireland ignored Tom Crean and his achievements, but he will be forever remembered for his very close association with Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton, two of the most famous icons of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.

Patrick Fleming,

Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Sunday Independent