Ernest Shackleton was born on 15 February 1874 at Kilkea House, near the town of Athy in Co. Kildare, Ireland. He was the son of Henry Shackleton and Henrietta Gavan.

On his father’s side, the Shackletons had lived in County Kildare since the 1720s. On his mother’s side, the Gavans and the Fitzmaurices had lived in Ireland since the twelfth century.