Kinsale History Society will host a wreath laying ceremony at the bust of the McCarthy brothers on the Pier Road, Kinsale, on Thursday March 16th at 6pm to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Antarctic hero, Timothy McCarthy.
Born in Lower Cove, Kinsale, on July 15th 1888, like many of his generation, he served his seamen’s apprenticeship in the Royal Navy, before reverting to civilian life in 1905.
In 1913 he applied to take part in the Endurance Trans Antarctic Expedition under the stewardship of veteran polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton.
His application was accepted, possibly as a result of the exploits of his older brother, Mortimer, who had already earned a silver antarctic medal and had a mountain named after him, as a result of his actions with Captain Falcon Scott, in an earlier expedition in 1910.
The fate of the Endurance crew is now somewhat legendary, when the men were forced to abandon the ship after it became trapped in the region’s infamous pack ice, eventually leading to the ship disappearing beneath the depths of the cold Antarctic’s waters.
With little chance of rescue, Shackleton led his men across the treacherous pack ice and open sea, reaching the relative safety of Elephant Island, before setting out with his most experienced sailors, including Tom Crean and Timothy McCarthy, in the James Caird, a small open boat, to raise the alarm at the whaling station at South Georgia, almost 500 nautical miles away.
Miraculously, with the skill of the boat’s navigator, Frank Worsley and the seamanship of Timothy McCarthy, whose outstanding helmsmanship guided the boat through the worst of the South Atlantic’s storms, Shackleton made landfall at South Georgia and eventually rescued the remaining crew on Elephant Island.
Reenlisting with the Royal Navy on his return to Britain, McCarthy lost his life on March 16th 1917, when the oil tanker he was serving on, the Narragansett, was torpedoed by a Germany submarine.
His brother, Mortimer, collected Timothy’s silver polar medal, which was awarded posthumously in 1920. The medal was sold to a private collector at auction last year in London for £65,000.