South Pole Inn - The historic pub once owned by Antarctic hero, Tom Crean. The name ‘South Pole Inn’ was an open statement of his past endeavours and perhaps also a tribute to his lost friend Edgar Evans who himself held an ambition to return to Wales and run a public house similarly named.
TOM CREAN - Kerry's legendary polar explorer.
Nicknamed "The Irish Giant", Tom Crean was one of ten children born to a poor farming couple who lived in the small village of Annascaul. After an argument with his parents, he left his family home aged 15, lied about his age and joined the British Navy where he volunteered as an explorer in 1901. Crean was a member of three famous expeditions to Antarctica which occurred through what was referred to as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’. Crean built his legend through his heroic actions and the extraordinary feats that he completed on them.
During one of these expeditions, after man-hauling a sled 1500 miles for 100 days, Tom Crean volunteered to make a lone 35 mile trek with only 3 crackers and a stick of chocolate (at -30c) across the Arctic’s Ross Ice Shelf to save two fallen comrades - Evans & Lashley.
On another trip, after his ship Endurance became beset in the pack ice and sank, he was a participant in a dramatic series of events including months spent drifting on the ice, a journey in lifeboats to Elephant Island, and an open boat journey of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Upon reaching South Georgia, Crean was one of the party of three which undertook the first land crossing of the island, without maps or proper mountaineering equipment to get aid.
During these expeditions, Tom sealed his reputation as a tough and dependable polar traveler, earning three Polar medals and the Albert Medal for Lifesaving. He returned to the Navy for WW1 and when his naval career ended in 1920, he returned to Kerry. In Annascaul, Crean married and opened this small pub called the "South Pole Inn". He was said to be an extremely modest man - putting his medals away, never talking about his achievements and never giving press interviews. "He put his medals and his sword in a box and that was that," one of his daughters, Eileen, said years later.
After enduring some of the harshest conditions known to man, Crean succumbed to appendicitis in 1938. He was 61. He was buried in a family plot in Ballynacourty.
The interior of the South Pole Inn is adorned with images of Tom Crean and his expeditions. Opposite the pub is the Tom Crean memorial Garden which includes a bronze statue of Tom Crean holding husky pups.