Cabin in which Ernest Shackleton died donated to Ireland

Gift from Norwegian owner to be displayed at Athy Heritage Centre-Museum with artefacts

The cabin in which Irish adventurer Ernest Shackleton died of a heart attack in the Antarctic Ocean in early 1922 has been shipped to Ireland as a long- term donation by its Norwegian owner.

The "sea-bedroom", as one of Shackleton's colleagues called it, has been maintained on a farm above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway for many years.

Shackleton died early on January 5th, 1922, while anchored off the whaling station at Grytviken on South Georgia.

"You're always wanting me to give up things, what is it I ought to give up?"had been the explorer's last words in the ship's cabin, speaking from his bunk to his friend and medical doctor Dr Alexander Macklin.


“Chiefly alcohol, boss, I don’t think it agrees with you,” Macklin has recalled replying – only to get no response back.

The cabin was part of the Norwegian schooner-rigged steamship, Quest, which Shackleton had acquired for his final voyage to try and clear his debts.


The ship worked as a minesweeper during the second World War, and sank during a seal hunt off the


coast in 1962.

However, the ship's owner at the time, Norwegian Johan Drage, had removed the cabin, and it was transported by horse and cart to a farm at Saltdal, near Rognan, in Norway's Nordland region.

The current owner, Drage’s great grandson Ulfe Bakke, played in it as a child and later maintained it for historical purposes.

Corkman Eugene Furlong was on a visit to Norway in 2008 when he heard about its existence and tracked Mr Bakke down. Mr Furlong recalled he felt quite emotional as he realised he was the first Irish person inside it since Shackleton's death.

Mr Bakke subsequently visited Shackleton's birthplace in Co Kildare and met organisers of the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School, including Kevin Kenny.

Mr Bakke decided to donated the cabin to Co Kildare, and shipment was arranged at cost by shipping company DFDS.

“We have met Shackleton fans along the way,” Mr Kenny said.

One of his committee members, Joe O’Farrell, travelled the entire journey with the shipment last week.

The cabin will be taken west from Dublin Port for restoration by Conservation Letterfrack in Connemara, and it is planned to be in Athy, Co Kildare next year.


Athy has the only permanent exhibition anywhere devoted to Shackleton, including an original sledge and harness and a model of his ship


, which began to be crushed in pack ice in the Antarctic a century ago this week.

The cabin will be displayed along with written material, including a description of its interior by scout James Marr, who travelled with the adventurer.

“On the port side was the bunk, stretching the entire length of the room, with drawers beneath and a single porthole above,” Marr wrote.

“A small washstand stood against the forward bulkhead; shelves well-fitted with books on the starboard side, and a small, collapsible chair completed the more elaborate furnishings. In addition . . . was a small white-enamelled cabinet fitted with an oval mirror in the door, and an emergency oil-lamp for use when the electric supply gave out.”

The 15th annual Shackleton Autumn School runs from October 23rd-25th in Athy

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times