Confirmation that the Marine Institute’s new Research Vessel is to be named after Tom Crean “more than fulfils” a long and arduous campaign for the State to honour Annascaul’s famous Antarctic explorer.
hat was the view of Salford-based Tim Foley, who 11 years ago kick-started a campaign for Kerry Airport to be named after Crean.
That effort evolved over time and has campaigned for Ireland to honour a man who took part in three expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 1900s, and Mr Foley said that January 31, 2021, will go down in history as the day that the long-sought breakthrough finally arrived.
“I’m over the moon with the news and somewhat relieved,” Mr Foley said. “What I’m most proud about is that the goal was reached with very little press and media attention and without the active support of any politicians or high-profile followers save a few,” he added, paying particular tribute to footballer Kieran Donaghy for his support.
Mr Foley said he received the news through a phone call from campaign supporter John Dimond, shortly after being discharged from hospital following a two-hour heart operation.
The 52.8-metre vessel will replace the RV Celtic Voyager and was designed by a Norway-based firm, Skipsteknisk AS. Construction is currently underway in northern Spain, and it is hoped that the vessel, for which €25m was allocated in the 2021 Budget, will be operational by summer 2022.
It will replace the Celtic Voyager and complement the larger Celtic Explorer, and it will provide space for 12 crew, 14 scientists, and on-board hospital.
“Ultimately, it was thousands of ordinary Crean fans across the world who helped get this over the line,” Mr Foley said. “For many, the campaign posts and more recently my biography of Crean [Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero] was their first introduction to his incredible story.
“A double celebration is still possible when the time comes to name the Irish Navy flagship. For that reason, and up until the time of the flagship name being announced, the Change.org petition will remain open for people to sign.”
The ‘Ireland Should Honour Tom Crean’ Facebook page also remains operational.