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Scouting in Ireland

Baden Powell & The Beginnings of Scouting

Scouting began the bright ideas from a single Englishman Robert Baden Powell in 1907 and has since spread all over the world. Here is a great (and not too long) article written about Baden Powell, Chief Scout of the World.

Scouting immediately caught on and soon spread around the world. Here is another article on the Story of Scouting, again from the WOSM Website. Also, here is a list of notable Milestones of the Scout Movement.

For Some Inspiration on Scouting, here is B-P’s Last Message to the Scouts of the world.

Scouting in Ireland

Scouting in Ireland, as part of the British Empire, started in 1908 in Dublin and soon began to spread across the city there and then across the country. Scout groups were initially established in Dublin, coming together to form the Dublin City and County Boy Scouts. Simultaneously, the County Wicklow Scout Association and the Port of Dublin Sea Scout Association established themselves in and around the capital. As Ireland remained part of the British Empire, the governance of Scouting in Ireland was headed in an official capacity by The Scout Association and its Chief Scout, Robert Baden-Powell

In 1921, the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State. At this time, the name of Irish Free State Scout Council was adopted, as the association expanded its reach outside of the greater Dublin area, becoming a national organisation. The name of the association was changed again with the foundation of the Republic of Ireland. Taking on the title of the Boy Scouts of Ireland. At this time, the association also gained the recognition of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) becoming Ireland’s only officially recognised scout association.

Then in 1925 and 1926, Father Ernest Farrell, a curate in Greystones, County Wicklow began working with a youth programme loosely modeled on the Scout Method. Under the pen-name “Sagart”, he wrote a series of articles in Our Boys, a magazine published by the Christian Brothers, advocating the formation of an official Catholic Scout organisation. This initial group, while more in line with the methods of the Boys’ Brigade was viewed as an effective means of imprinting a Catholic ethos on the young men of Ireland. Father Farrell’s brother, Father Tom Farrell, a curate in the Pro-Cathedral gave this fledgeling association the backing of the church and its resources. In 1927 the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland was officially founded, with a constitution drawn up and a headquarters from which the association could be organised, clothed and supplied.

The CBSI grew quickly and at an early stage John O’Neill, a motor works proprietor and former member of Seanad Éireann who had been associated with Fr. Ernest’s Greystones venture, became Chief Scout. A “national committee”, forerunner of the National Executive Board, was set up. Fr. Tom kept up constant contact with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and with the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Passionists,Jesuits, Capuchins and other religious houses, all of which sponsored CBSI troops in Dublin at a very early period.

CBSI played a significant role in services to the 1932 Eucharistic Congress with a large camp at Terenure College. The First Aid Corps later evolved into the Headquarters Division of the Irish Red Cross when established in 1939. In 1934 a major Holy Year Pilgrimage to Rome was organised, chartering the cruise liner ‘Lancastria’.

On the voyage Sir Martin Melvin, the proprietor of the English Catholic paper ‘The Universe’, presented a silver trophy, later named in his honour, which became the premier award for the CBSI’s National Scout Campcraft Competition held each August. Larch Hill camp site in Tibradden on the slopes of the Dublin Mountains was purchased in 1938, using surplus funds generated by this Pilgrimage, and is today the National Office and Campsite of Scouting Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts of Ireland continued to operate and developments following the late 60’s saw the association take on the name of the Scout Association of Ireland. Then In 1965, the CBSI and SAI formed the Federation of Irish Scout Associations with the WOSM recognised Scout Association of Ireland. This allowed both associations access to the recognition and resources available through the world association. All scouts in Ireland were thereafter able to play an active role in International Scouting. The name of the SAI was subsequently changed to Scouting Ireland (SAI) in advance of the merging of the association with the CBSI.

In 1967, to celebrate its 40th Birthday, the CBSI held a National Camp at Lismore Co. Waterford attended by 3,500 Scouts. The Association’s Golden Jubilee Year was marked in 1977 by events throughout the country, culminating in an International camp, Jamborara held in the grounds of Mount Melleray Abbey, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.

A Jamboree, Portumna ’85 was organised in 1985 by all Scouting Associations in Ireland (CBSI, SAI, and NISC)through the Federation of Irish Scout Associations. It was held in Portumna, Co. Galway to celebrate International Youth Year. Jamborees were also subsequently held at Gosford Park, Gosford ’89 in 1989 and Ballyfin in 1993.

During the 80’s, CBSI started to accept Girls as Venture Scouts and soon afterwards in all sections. A Beaver section was also started and the association was renamed The Catholic Scouts of Ireland (CSI).

In 1998, both the CSI and the SAI voted to begin discussions to form a single, unified association. When, on May 11, 2003 the National Council of the association voted to form a single body with the second largest scout association on the island, it was a major departure in Irish scouting. While close ties were always maintained with Scouting Ireland S.A.I., a divided approach to promoting scouting was seen as a substantial impediment to the growth of the movement in Ireland. Its National Headquarters was at Larch Hill.

The CSI and SAI ceased operations in 2003, allowing for the formation of Scouting Ireland in 2004. This body now governs all of the scouting in Ireland, run by the National Management Committee (NMC) with the support of some professional staff.

A Jamboree was held in 2007, in Punchestown, Co. Kildare as an an anniversary of 100 years of Irish Scouting. The reported attendance was 10,000 people although it was cancelled on the 9th day due to extreme weather and flooding. Many troops were evacuated and the closing ceremony was cancelled.

Another Jamboree was due to be held in Stradbally in 2013 but was cancelled in late 2012 due to lack of sign-ups. A replacement series of camps starting in 2013 based on “Patrols in Action” were started instead in Larch Hill with Camp One. Five of these will be held all over the country in the 5 National Campsites based on the new “One Programme”. The first 2 of these camps have been successful.

As a replacement to the CBSI Melvin Shield, the Phoenix competition was created and has grown hugely as the National Campcraft competition. This was attended by over 800 scouts in 2014 and is is only looking to get bigger in coming years.

 

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