Ballitore is a neat little village which was founded by Abel Strettel and John Barcroft in 1685. It was the first planned Quaker Town in Europe. In 1726 another Quaker, Abraham Shackleton, established a school there which was attended by Edmund Burke from 1741 to 1744.
Abraham Shackleton's most well known descendant was the explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), born at Kilkea House, second in a family of 10 children. He was a member of Robert Falcon Scott's first expedition to the South Pole in 1901 and led his own endeavor in 1907, which got within 160 km of the Pole, closer than anyone else at that time.
After Amundsen became the first man to reach the Pole in 1911, Shackleton firmly decided to be the first to cross the whole continent and sailed for Antarctica in 1914, just as World War One broke out. His shiped was named Endurance after the family motto 'Fortitudine vincimus' - 'By endurance we conquer'.
Endurance reached the Antarctic but became trapped in the ice for 10 months, before breaking up. The crew then spent six days on the open seas in three small boats before they made it to the uninhabited 'Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others took one of the boats and left to find help on South Georgia, 1,300 km away. They reached safety after 16 brutal days, in May 1916. Three months later the men on Elephant Island were finally rescued, nearly two years after the start of the expedition. Their adventures and epic tales of survival captured the imagination of the world. Shackleton may not have succeeded in his endeavours but, as Sir Edmund Hillary, first man to climb Mt Everest, said, 'when disaster strikes and all hope has gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton'. Ernest Shackleton died on South Georgia in 1922 and is buried there.
Another member of the Shackleton family found fame of another sort. Ernest brother Frank. He was implicated in the mysterious case of the 'Theft of the Irish Crown Jewels' . They consisted of a star and a badge , encrusted with diamonds and emeralds, and were held in Dublin Castle.
In 1907, on the eve of a visit to Dublin by Edward VII, the jewels went missing. There were no signs of forced entry indicating an inside job. The jewels were never found. Sir Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms responsible for the safety of the Jewels, was blamed for their disappearance and forced to resign, but many think the real person guilty of the offence was his assistant, the flamboyant Frank Shackleton. Shackleton was full of charm but always in financial trouble. It is thought he may have been blackmailed and needed money badly.
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