Serene beauty in a world of ice

The Times We Lived In – Published: September 10th 1985. Photograph by Tom Lawlor

 

At this gloomy time of year our minds turn to holidays, and the possibility of escape to more exciting – and, in many cases, warmer – climes.

The location of today’s photo certainly fulfils the first of those criteria. It shows Pat Colleran on board the yacht Shardana, as it moves through shifting sea ice on a voyage to eastern Greenland. Skippering the expedition was the highly accomplished Irish ice sailor John Gore-Grimes: the Irish Times photographer Tom Lawlor was also a member of the six-man crew.

It’s surely no accident that the picture summonses the ghosts of the legendary ice travellers of earlier ages. Sporting a beard and hairdo of which Shackleton would be proud, Colleran keeps watch at the bow, boathook raised, ready to protect the yacht’s delicate external skeleton from damage.

According to Lawlor’s diary of the trip – published in The Irish Times over a number of days – Colleran was a good man to put in charge of a spatula. While on galley duty, he produced an impressive feast whose centrepiece was “chile con carne with stuffed peppers”.

The image captures the serene beauty of eastern Greenland: the gleaming icebergs, the sun reflected in the mirror-like sea. All of which could, of course, change in a second. The diary for Day 13 reads: “Ice on the rails, rigging. Ice on my camera. Ice on the aerials. We touch ice, banging and scraping. Ice surrounding us, we are trapped. The horizon is a white collar of ice.”

The Shardana was aiming for Scoresby Sund, a large fjord system covering an area of nearly 15,000 square miles. Should you fancy checking out this glorious landscape for yourself, a seven-night cruise in September, departing from the north of Iceland, will set you back about €7,500. That’s if you want a cabin of your own. A flatscreen telly and internet connection will cost approximately €2,500 more. As for Arctic ice, sadly it’s in considerably shorter supply now than it was 30-odd years ago.

– Arminta Wallace

These and other ‘Irish Times’ images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, ‘The Times We Lived In’, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.

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