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Since 2010 Tim Foley has been the driving force of a campaign to honour a man with a remarkable story. Tom Crean, the subject of the new book 'Crean -The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero, ' was born and raised a few miles away from the author's father, on the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.
Tim's narrative in this standalone biography is based on many years of research and study into the life of Crean, who joined the Navy at 16-years-old and who embarked upon a career that saw him become a member of three major, pioneering Polar expeditions of the 20th century.
The story commences in late 19th century Ireland under the governance of the British Empire and continues through Crean's career in the Royal Navy whilst serving under the leadership of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton over the course of three Antarctic expeditions, Discovery, 1901-1904, Terra Nova, 1910-1913 and Endurance, 1914-1916.
After serving an unhappy apprenticeship under the strict governance of the Navy at the age of 16, Able Seaman, Tom Crean found himself thrust into a major international incident on his first Naval assignment to Central America. It sparked another miserable period of his Naval career and resulted in demotions until an opportunity arose that would lead him to the place where he became most associated with - Antarctica.
Crean found his true calling during the heroic age of exploration on the frozen continent. Four of the chapters in the book focus on documented tales of Crean's remarkable heroism that brought about the life-saving rescue of 25 of his colleagues over three separate occasions.
We are then taken through to Crean's retirement and his return to a changed country in the aftermath of rebellion and in the midst of a War of Independence that came at a great personal loss to Tom Crean.
The book goes on to question why and how Crean's story was largely forgotten during his lifetime and after his death and reveals the surprising source of the first ever documentd account of Crean's Polar feats that was written in 1952.. Continuing the story the author details the efforts now being made in a petition to earn him national recognition from the Irish Government.
Born in 1877, the son of a farmer into an impoverished life in County Kerry, Ireland, Tom Crean's tale is one of suffering. successes and sadness but above all, it's a story of an unassuming man who displayed unparalleled bravery to save the lives of others whilst subject to the harshest conditions on the planet.
In a recent review of the book by Jennifer FitzGerald, a former Senior Lecturer of Queen's University, Belfast, she stated:
"Essential to our understanding of Crean's life and experience is the detailed account Foley gives of his entire naval career. The author is scrupulous in referencing all information while at the same time maintaining the flow of the narrative. Each chapter presents Crean's extraordinary feats as an unbroken story, with a final note indicating the multiple sources from which it is derived. Crean's post-Antarctic life is chronicled with the support of reliable oral history; newspaper accounts throw a light on how Crean negotiated his Irish identity over a period of great political change. The production values of this volume are striking: illustrations by Egle Gostautaite, impressive layout, chapter title pages supported by epigraphs, photographs, news clippings and sidebars. Comprehensive endnotes, bibliography and index facilitate the reader intent on further research."