Aileen Crean O'Brien, granddaughter of Tom Crean - Polar Maidens 2018
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Aileen Crean O’Brien

Aileen Crean O’Brien
Age 57


Aileen Crean O’Brien is the granddaughter of Tom Crean, the hero of both Scott’s and Shackleton’s South Pole adventures, who the Polar Maidens are honouring.

Her full time job is owner and chef at the Tom Crean Fish & Wine restaurant and townhouse in Kenmare, Co Kerry. As well as the restaurant, it has 8 rooms for guest accommodation.

Aileen Crean O’Brien has undertaken many adventures over the years. She’s completed the Dublin City Marathon, the Inca Trail to Macha Picchu in Peru, the Everest Base Camp Trek, hiked the Mulhacén in Spain and Mount Teide in Tenerife. She enjoys local mountain walking in the Magillacuddy Reeks in the Republic of Ireland.


She’s a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer, an intermediate level skier and has won three All-Ireland medals for basketball. Plus she has  completed a two day rock climbing course and a two day mountain skills course with Outdoors Ireland.


If that wasn’t enough, Aileen took part in a six week intensive training camp in Poland. This training included cross country skiing known as randonee skiing, avalanche training, winter mountain skills and crevasse rescue.


In late 2016, Aileen attempted to travel across South Georgia but unfortunately, sustained an injury which did not allow her to not complete the journey. Despite this, she gained lots of profitable experience for future challenges by sailing the Southern Ocean and completing the first couple of days of the mission.

Q&A with Aileen Crean O’Brien

What’s your motivation for being a Polar Maiden?

It’s unfinished family business… it would be a huge honour for me to complete my grandfather’s journey. He wanted to be the first Irish and Kerry man to the South Pole, I would be the first Crean to the South Pole.


What have you found the most challenging with your training?

Finding the time to train. I pull tyres with a bum bag – containing my mobile, pen and paper as the restaurant phone is diverted to me when closed. I take bookings or deal with any enquiries and problems.  I love the physical training and the fact that I cross train. I love challenges.


What three home comforts will you miss during your time at the South Pole?

Of course our own Expedition Ale (Crean family craft ale), my comfy bed and my family.

What are you most looking forward to during the expedition?

The tranquility and peace and quiet, time to reflect and time to myself (in my business I am in constant contact with people, customers, staff and suppliers). Sharing with the team at the end of the day. Achieving our goal and standing on the South Pole.


Is there anything you are worried about pre, during and post the trek?

Not worried about anything.  I know we have a great team and will support each other as is needed. I just hope we get good weather.


How do you think you will maintain your drive to complete the expedition?

I am a very determined person and love a challenge. I am so grateful that this expedition has come my way and I am determined to complete it for my own personal reasons –  i.e. not completing South Georgia, my grandfather of whom I am in awe, as well as keeping the story of Tom Crean alive for generations. I want young people to aspire to follow in his footsteps and achieve their dreams. Through my experiences, they will learn that things don’t always turn out as you planned, but you have to re-assess and try again.

Aileen’s Gallery

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