Saturday, March 7, 2009

Antarctic explorer Forde to be honoured in his adopted home

Over the last decade or so much work has been done in reviving the memory of Ireland's arctic and antarctic explorers and names like Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean have become much more well known.

Cork has its own share of such intrepid explorers such as Kinsale's McCarthy brothers (Tim & Morty) and the present day Dr. Clare O'Leary but the one to honoured next week is Robert Forde, originally Moviddy near Bandon but who spent his last years in Cobh.

A memorial to Forde will be unveiled at the Promenade, Cobh next Saturday, 14th March at 2.30pm. The unveiling will be performed by Jim Wilson who has spearheaded the creation of a formal memorial to the Antarctic hero in his adopted home town.

Robert Forde was born in the rural parish of Moviddy near Bandon on August 29th 1875, son of George Forde and his wife Charity (née Payne). Robert joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and eventually rose to the rank of Petty Officer First Class. In 1910 he joined with Tom Crean and others under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott to take part in the Terra Nova expedition (Terra Nova being the name of their ship). The expedition undertook an extensive survey of the Antarctic and in 1911 Forde and his companions examined the area around Ross Island and the Polar Plateau. An icy promontory was renamed Mount Forde in his honour. Unluckily, or fortunately as it turned out later, Forde suffered severe frostbite and was ordered home for treatment by Captain Scot. This meant he did not participate on the final and fatal attempt on the South Pole.

On his return home Forde found himself serving in the Royal Navy at the height of the First World War where he served on a number of ships. He survived the war and after demobilisation he returned to Cobh where he was to spend the rest of his life. Robert Forde died in March 1959 so next Saturday's unveiling of the monument in the Promenade will also mark the 50th anniversary of his death.


Jim Wilson said...

Hi Carrignafoy,

Jim Wilson here. As much as I would like to claim credit for spearheading the Robert Forde memorial work I was more a figurehead than a spearhead. It was the hard work of Claire Stack, John Hennessy and members of O.N.E. on the committee that deserve great credit. The unveiling went really well, fantastic turn out and the memorial looks really good.
Like the blog, all the best, Jim

Carrignafoy said...

Thanks Jim. My apologies to Claire, John the very active Cobh O.N.E and others for leaving them out. There was a great turnout and the memorial looks fabulous - better than I'd expected. Perhaps the people of Cobh, Cork and Ireland will now begin to take more interest in people like Forde, Tom Crean, the McCarthy brothers and all the other Irish pioneers of the Antarctic (and Arctic) expeditions. Also not forgetting Jerome Collins of Cork, Fenian, meteorologist, reporter and searcher for the North West Passage who perished in Siberia and is now buried at Curraghkippane on the Northside of Cork.