Westmeath County Council, with funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, through their Decade of Centenaries Programme, has commissioned a Digital Exhibition to mark the Centenary of the first Everest Expedition led by Charles Howard Bury of Belvedere House.
The Everest Expedition took several months and culminated on 20th– 24th September 1921, when the party reached the North Col and established the route to the summit.
Reflecting this achievement a new online exhibition is available at www.everest1921.com from Tuesday 21st September.
The online exhibition was curated by Dr Ian Kenneally, current Westmeath Historian in Residence.
In September 1921, a small group of mountaineers reached a ridge high in the Tibetan mountains, with Mount Everest Rising before them. Leading that small group was an Irishman, Charles Howard-Bury, who grew up in Offaly’s Charleville Castle and who spent most of his life in Belvedere House, Co. Westmeath.
Everest at that time was unmapped and Howard-Bury’s expedition was the first to explore the mountain. He was chosen to lead that expedition because he was an accomplished explorer and was, reputedly, fluent in over twenty languages and dialects. Howard-Bury had fought in the First World War and was captured by the German army in March 1918. He escaped but was recaptured, remaining a prisoner until the end of the war.
Howard-Bury guided his team on the arduous journey from India and through Tibet. On the way, he took many photographs of Tibet and its people, recording endless stories and facts as he did so. Many of those photographs and papers are now in Mullingar Public Library in the Charles Howard-Bury Collection, a collection that has international significance. It is that collection and Howard-Bury’s role in leading the 1921 mission to Mount Everest, that is commemorated and explored in the exhibition, which is curated by Ian Kenneally, Historian in Residence for County Westmeath. The exhibition includes maps, recordings and interviews with Frank Nugent, a renowned mountaineer, historian and author who was deputy leader of the Irish expedition to Mount Everest in 1993.