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Tom Crean’s breakfast “I’d have eaten a slice of your arse too where I’d been”

On days when the mood took him, Crean would sit chatting with patrons for hours. His presence and the thrill of being in his good company must have been a draw for those stepping through the doors of the South Pole Inn. One insight into the humour and wit of the ‘Irish Giant’ comes in the following tale:

One Friday morning, as the traders were heading down to Dingle from Tralee for the monthly cattle fair, the train broke down at Annascaul. Carrying their own food provisions for the weekend ahead, such as black puddings, sausages and bacon, with a hearty breakfast in mind,  a group of railwaymen and traders decided to use the downtime to head over to Crean’s bar for a drink. It was a place where they knew the large kitchen could be utilised to rustle up a bite to eat.

Being a Catholic meant it was forbidden to eat meat on a Friday, yet Tom, being the accommodating host he was, took to the stove to rustle up a full Irish breakfast for his hungry guests. Soon enough, the aromas reached upstairs to Nell, Crean’s wife, and she set about giving him an earful for his sacrilegious deeds on the holy day.
Crean, unmoved by his chastisement, carried on with his sinful deed and quickly retorted, “Friday be damned, I’d have eaten a slice of your arse too where I’d been.”

It was a reply typical of Tom Crean’s wit and humour which played such a vital role, on a number of occasions, in keeping up the spirits of his Antarctic colleagues when all seemed lost. Dr Edward Wilson, known as ‘Uncle Bill’ to his expedition colleagues and one of the fateful five who never made it back from the South Pole with Scott, summed Crean up well, stating, “He was a delightful creature.”

Tom Crean's breakfast "I'd have eaten a slice of your arse too where I'd been" Tom Crean Book

To the left here, a photograph of Tom Crean sat with his friends and his daughter Mary, on Annascaul Bridge taken around the same period (Circa 1933), that the breakfast story occurred.

To read this and other stories about Tom Crean, the book can be purchased here

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