Ernest Henry Shackleton was born on the 15th February in 1874 in Kilkea House, County Kildare in Ireland.

The second in a family of ten, his father Henry farmed at Kilkea. His mother Henrietta was descended from the Fitzmaurices, a family which had been in Kerry since the Norman times in the 13th century. Abraham Shackleton , was a Quaker from west Yorkshire who came to Ballitore in County Kildare and started a school in 1726. Famous past pupils include Cardinal Paul Cullen, Edmund Burke, famous political writer and orator and James Napper Tandy, United Irishman.

In 1880 when Ernest was six his father gave up farming and went to Trinity College Dublin, and qualified to be a doctor. The family lived at 35 Marlborough Road in Dublin and in 1884 they moved to Sydenham in South London where Henry practiced for 30 years.

After attending school at Dulwich College as a day boy Ernest, aged 16, joined the Merchant Navy. After 10 years he gave that up and joined a British Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott to try and be the first to reach the South Pole