East Cork Man To Have His Own Scottish Tartan Design

By Seamus Whelehan


He may not be from a Scottish clan but the Ballinacurra man, famed for discovering the Antarctic Mainland, is to have his own tartan design.
The Scottish Register of Tartans, which approves applications for new patterns, have just given permission for the Edward Bransfield commemorative Tartan to be woven.
Created by weaver, Gael Mueller, in collaboration with Jim Wilson and the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee,the design is to celebrate the bicentenary of Bransfield’s discovery in 2020.
Antarctic Tartan was the starting point for the pattern in recognition of the man who led the first expedition to see and chart the Antarctic mainland
The main colours are white representing the ice covered Continent, ice flows and the edge of the Antarctic, dark blue representing the Antarctic Ocean and the darkness of the Antarctic winter, and light blue representing the blue of the sky.
There is also green representing Bransfield and Ireland, orange and red representing the lichen and both Emperor and King Penguins who call this Continent home.
Jim Wilson from Birdwatch Ireland, who takes wildlife expeditions to the Antarctic each Winter says the tartan is “really capturing what you see when you go to the Antarctic.”
The Edward Bransfield Tartan is to be woven into two scarves- one for Mr Wilson and the second for the Antarctic Historian on board the Island Sky, a luxury expedition polar cruise ship.
Mr Wilson said he expects the pieces to be a talking point, helping spread the East Cork connection with the Antarctic to a wider audience.
“Most people in the industry don’t know about Edward Bransfield despite a strait being named after him” commented Jim Wilson.
In 1825 the British sailor and navigator, James Weddell, named a 300 mile body of water between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula after the East Cork man.
While Edward Bransfield has received some credit abroad for his achievement, he has had no recognition afforded to him here at home.
In 2000, Bransfield’s historic achievement was also recognised when the Royal Mail issued a stamp in his honour. Since no likeness of the man survives, the stamp depicted an image of the RRS Bransfield, a British Antarctic surveying vessel.

Jim Wilson is Chairman of the Remembering Edward Bransfield committee, who are determined to right that wrong.

The group is currently fundraising to erect a Sculpture to his memory in Ballinacurra in 2020, marking the bicentenary of his voyage.

“At the moment all the funds we have are from abroad and hopefully we won’t end up embarrassed and will receive Government grants through various departments” Jim tells The East Cork Journal

The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust are the latest group to provide a large donation towards providing a monument in Bransfield’s native village promoting the history of the frozen Continent.

Bransfield first sighted the Trinity Peninsula in 1820 and is also noted for charting the nearby South Shetland Islands.
Trinity Peninsula is the northernmost part of the Antarctic Peninsula extending north-eastward for about 130 km to Cape Dubouzet from an imaginary line connecting Cape Kate.
Born in 1785 Bransfield was press-ganged into the British Navy at 18 years of age, and quickly rose through the ranks to become an Officer, serving as a Master on several ships.
A major series of talks are planned for 2019 in the lead up to the bicentenary in 2020.