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The Forgotten Ballinacurra Finder of Antarctica

25th January 2017
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There are fears that the Larsen C ice shelf, almost as big as County Cork, could break off There are fears that the Larsen C ice shelf, almost as big as County Cork, could break off

In the proud annals of Irish explorers there is a forgotten name and it surprises me that so few Irish people know about him.

When I have mentioned the name of Edward Bransfield, very few have had any knowledge of him.

Yet his story is an amazing part of Irish, British and world maritime and exploration history which a person no less than Vladimir Putin of Russia is set to challenge, disputing the achievements of this man.

The Antarctic is the focus of a lot of attention at present.

There are fears that the Larsen C ice shelf, almost as big as County Cork, could break off. If it does that could raise sea levels by as much as four inches.

There is another story about Antarctica, quite fascinating, which you can hear on this edition of THIS ISLAND NATION, the maritime programme, involving a man from the small village of Ballinacurra, on the edge of Cork Harbour.

It is the story of Edward Bransfield, the Irishman who discovered Antarctica but, amazingly, is not recognised for that achievement. Taken, probably ‘press-ganged’ from his father’s fishing boat in Cork Harbour as a young man by the British Navy, he rose through the ranks to command ships in the service and first sighted Antarctica on January 30, 1820… the anniversary is but a few days away.

Jim Wilson is a highly respected ecologist and ornithologist of 40 years’ experience who is in the Antarctic at present, where he has been going for many years, as a guide. He comes from Cobh, not far from Ballinacurra and is part of a group which intends to provide the first memorial to honour Bransfield, but they don’t even have a photograph of him, because none is known to exist. And they expect opposition from Russia.

Putin versus the Cork village of Ballinacurra….. Now there’s a story which you can listen to here on this week’s edition below

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