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Alias: None

Title: Mr

Dates: 1882-unknown

Nationality: Irish

Awards: None

Donovan was born in Kinsale, Cork, Ireland in 1882. He sailed with Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition in 1907, as a fireman on Nimrod, at the age of 25. Otherwise known as a stoker, his role was to tend the fire, generating steam to run the engine. It was a job that required enormous physical strength, shovelling coal into the engine’s firebox.

Due to the nature of this work, it is understandable that Donovan only played a minor part of the expedition’s activities on land. He signed on in Lyttelton, New Zealand on 28 December 1907 and then signed off in March 1908. Donovan only worked for three months on the first Antarctic voyage of the expedition. One reason he worked for such a short time was that when Nimrod was docked in Lyttelton, although there were jobs for other sailors - such as ship repairs and maintenance - there was no need for a fireman in attendance while the engine was not running. There is no documentary evidence for Donovan’s life after his time on Nimrod and so very little is known of him thereafter.

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