The Story of Edward Bransfield

He was born in a little seaside village in Ballinacurra, County Cork, Ireland in 1785. His father was a fisherman. And it was on his father’s boat that the British Royal Navy press ganged him into their ranks to fight against France. 

He was 18.

Like many who were forcibly enlisted at that time, he found a home at sea. He was bright and attentive and rose in rank to become a ship’s Master in 1814.Five years later he found himself in Valparaiso, Chile as Master of the HMS Andromache under Captain William Henry Shirreff.

It was there that a report came in that land had been sighted south of Cape Horn. The news was shocking. There was no mapping of such a thing. No one had reported anything but heavy seas and ice in that area.

Captain Shirreff appointed Edward Bransfield as Master and Commander of the brig Williams. With a crew of 24 and provision for a 12-month expedition, the Irishman set sail for the edge of the earth. His mission was to survey and describe any and all land that he could find.

Six weeks later, on January 30, 1820, the Bransfield Expedition became the first to see and chart mainland Antarctica.

Unlike other Antarctic explorations, Bransfield’s expedition occurred without loss of life or major ship damage. That may be why no one remembered him.

Until the discovery of a log of Midshipman Charles Poynter which documented the historic voyage.

Today, in Ballinacurra, County Cork, Ireland, there stands a monument to the man that lived there so very long ago.

To read more on Edward Bransfield and his expedition visit this website.

What Our
Customers Say

I love Gael Gisvold’s new tartan for many reasons. Celebrating Edward Bransfield’s discovery of Antarctica with the shades of the Antarctica land and seascape is such a cool idea. The colors are beautifully woven in to a fascinating story of this icy, harsh environment. My scarf is soft and warm. The colors match most everything that I own. Being Scotch Irish myself, I appreciate the interesting histories that so many tartans can tell.

Christine Crossan Bogart

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