Scott and Irishmen

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2006), Letters, Letters, Volume 14

Sir,

—Your contributor, Bernard Share (HI 13.5, Sept./Oct. 2005), statesthat ‘It is more likely that, Tom Crean excepted, Robert Falcon Scottdid not have too much time for Irishmen’. Apart from Crean, there werethree other Irishmen in the crew of the Terra Nova, including aprominent member of the land expedition, Petty Officer Patrick Keohanefrom County Cork, who was well regarded by Scott as a member of thesupport team. Keohane devised his own sledging flag, a gold harp on agreen background, when he accompanied Scott immediately before theexplorer’s final push to the South Pole. A leather-bound memorial toCaptain Scott was presented to Keohane and can be seen with thesledging flag and other memorabilia in the city museum in Plymouth.After retirement from the navy, Keohane settled in Plymouth. All thissuggests that Scott properly appreciated the qualities that Irishsailors brought to the Terra Nova and to the expedition. More evidencewould be needed to support the view that he did not have too much timefor Irishmen. On a broader issue, it seems that little work has beendone on the nature and extent of the contribution that Irishmen made tothe Royal Navy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is incontrast to the interest now being shown in Irishmen in the BritishArmy.

—Yours etc.,
A.J. LINEHAN
Wimborne
Dorset

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