Scouting Ireland

From Maynooth Scouts Heritage

Scouting Ireland (Gasóga na hÉireann) is the sole World Organization of the Scout Movement-recognised Scouting association in the Republic of Ireland; in Northern Ireland it operates alongside The Scout Association of the UK. Scouting Ireland is a voluntary, non-formal educational movement for young people. It is independent, non-political, open to all without distinction of origin, race, creed, sexual orientation, spiritual belief or gender, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by Lord Baden-Powell and as stated by WOSM.<ref name="merger"/>

The aim of Scouting Ireland is to encourage the Social, Physical, Intellectual, Character, Emotional, and Spiritual development (known as the SPICES) of young people "so that they may achieve their full potential and as responsible citizens, to improve society".<ref name="SI Const Sec3">Template:Cite web</ref> Of the 750,000 people between the ages of 6 and 18 in Ireland, approximately 6% are involved in Scouting Ireland. The organisation was founded on 21 June 2003, after a merger between Scouting Ireland C.S.I. and Scouting Ireland S.A.I..<ref name="merger">Template:Cite news</ref><ref name="merge"/> Its headquarters are at Larch Hill, County Dublin.<ref name="merger"/>

The association is headed by the Chief Scout, currently Christy McCann, supported by the National Management Committee and Chief Executive Officer, John Lawlor.


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Plaque at 3 Dame Street which marks the site of the 1st Scout meeting in Ireland.

The Scouting Ireland organisation has its basis in two separate Irish Scouting organisations — the Scout Association of Ireland (SAI), formerly known as the Boy Scouts of Ireland, and the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI). The former traces its roots to 1908, and the latter was founded in 1927 – both trace their legacy to Lord Baden-Powell's Scout Movement.

By 1908, the influence of Baden-Powell's Scout Movement had spread from Great Britain to Ireland. The first recorded meeting of Scouts in Ireland took place at the home of Richard P. Fortune, a Royal Naval Volunteer Reservist, at 3 Dame Street, Dublin on 15 February 1908 where four boys were enrolled in the Wolf Patrol of the 1st Dublin Troop. The earliest known Scouting event in Ireland took place in the Phoenix Park in 1908 with members of the Dublin City Boy Scouts (later Scouting Ireland S.A.I.) taking part.

Because of the impacts to available adult leadership, the coming of the Great War in 1914 could have affected the viability of Scouting in Ireland. However, patrol leader members took over much of the leadership activities when adult leaders volunteered for active military duty.Template:Citation needed Scouts contributed to the war effort in several ways; notably the Sea Scouts, who supported regular coast guardsmen.Template:Citation needed

In Dublin in the 1920s, two Roman Catholic priests, Fathers Tom and Ernest Farrell, followed the progress of Scouting. They noted that in other countries, the Catholic Church had taken up the idea of Scouting as a means of imprinting a Catholic ethos on young people. After some study and experimentation, they made a proposal to the Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland and were granted a constitution and Episcopal patronage in November 1926. Thus, the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) (Gasóga Catoilici na hÉireann) was created. CBSI would later become the largest Scout association on the island.

When war came again in 1939, Scouts carried on under the direction of their patrol leaders, and undertook service tasks. Including acting as messengers, fire watchers, stretcher bearers, salvage collectors, etc.Template:Citation needed

File:Federation of Irish Scout Associations.png
Emblem of the Federation of Irish Scout Associations

In 1965, CBSI joined with SAI to form the Federation of Irish Scout Associations, FISA. Through FISA, Irish Scouts were able to play a full part in international Scouting. Prior to this, because the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) traditionally recognises only one Scouting body in each country, only SAI had been recognised by WOSM (since 1949).<ref name="stats">Template:Cite web</ref> Similarly, the Northern Irish Scout Council (NISC) had observer status in the Federation, as CBSI's membership extended across the 32 counties on the island of Ireland and WOSM usually only recognises associations that observe political boundaries.

Although aligned through FISA, these two separate Scouting organisations (SAI and the much larger CBSI) operated as separate entities through the latter half of the 20th century. Then, on 1 January 2004, the two organisations were merged to form 'Scouting Ireland'. This followed votes in May 2003, when both associations agreed to join together to form a new single association. This in turn had followed from decisions in 1998 to set this process in motion.<ref name="merge">Template:Cite web</ref> <ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

Scouting Ireland has 50,000 members across the island of Ireland (as of June 2016),<ref name="membership update"/> including Northern Ireland, where it works in partnership with the Scout Association in Northern Ireland (SANI), which is part of the United Kingdom Scout Association The Scout Association.

Local volunteers working in Scout Groups and Scout Counties and also various national teams are supported by a centralised full-time (professional) staff, who support the day-to-day running of the association.


Scouting Ireland offers a programme for youth members ages between 6 and 25 years.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

  • Beaver Scouts – Ages 6-8
  • Cub Scouts – Ages 9-11
  • Scouts – Ages 12-15
  • Venture Scouts – Ages 15-17
  • Rover Scouts – Ages 18-25
  • Sea Scouts – Sea Scouting is a model for implementing the Scout Method with an emphasis on maritime tradition, nautical skills and water based activities. Sea Scouting operates throughout the sections consistent with the above age ranges.

The National Management Committee can decide on variations to the Section names for use with a specific Symbolic Framework adopted by a Scout Group Council.


Scout Group[edit]

The basic unit of Scouting in Ireland is the Scout Group. Each Group is based around a single meeting point, but may have a number of sections, meeting at different times, and may have more than one Scout Troop or Cub Scout Pack, for example. The Group is coordinated by the Group Council, headed up by the Group Leader. Membership includes various Group appointments (like Secretary and Treasurer), adult representatives of all sections and youth representatives of the Scouts, Venture Scout and Rover Scout sections.

Scout County[edit]

Scout Groups are members of their local Scout County. Some are based on geographical counties, others, depending on density, are based in parts of cities or across county boundaries. The Scout County supports the training of Scouters, the youth programme and the development of Groups within the County. The Scout County Board, which meets at least once a year, consists of representatives of each Scout Group, elected youth representatives of the Scouts, Venture Scout and Rover Scout sections and holders of various County appointments (County Commissioner, County Secretary, County Treasurer) as well as County Programme and Training Co-ordinators.

The Scout County Management Committee consists of the Group Leaders, holders of the various County appointments.


Template:Main article For organisational purposes, Ireland is divided into six Scout Provinces; namely the Northern, Southern, North Eastern, South Eastern, Western and Dublin provinces. The Provincial Commissioner appoints a Training Co-Ordinator as well as Youth Programme and International representatives. The Provincial Management/Support Committee consists of County Commissioners, Provincial Officers, Co-ordinators and representatives.

Each Province has a Provincial Support Officer and a Group Facilitating Officer who administrate the development of Training and Youth Programme.

National Council[edit]

The primary decision making body of Scouting Ireland is National Council, which meets at least once a year. Membership consists of members of the National Management Committee, youth and adult representatives of each Scout Group in the country, and the National Youth Representatives as well as the holders of some County appointments. National Council is the vehicle for amendments to the movement's Rules and its Constitution. It also elects the members of the National Management Committee.

National Management Committee[edit]

The first Chief Scout elected was Martin Burbridge, the former National Treasurer of Scouting Ireland (CSI). He was re-elected at National Council in 2007 for a second term which was due to end in 2010. For personal reasons Burbridge announced his resignation in August 2008, and the NMC elected Michael John Shinnick, the then Chief Commissioner for Adult Resources, as SI's second Chief Scout in September 2008.<ref name="resignation">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="MJS 1">Template:Cite web</ref> He was elected by National Council in March 2009, and again in 2012, for a term to end in 2015.<ref name="MJS 2">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="MJS 3">Template:Cite web</ref> Christy McCann was elected as SI's third Chief Scout in September 2015.<ref name="McCannChief">Template:Cite tweet</ref><ref name="NMC"/><ref name="Emergency2015">Template:Cite tweet</ref>

Other National Officers include Jimmy Cunningham (National Secretary), Annette Byrne (National Treasurer), Dave Shalloo (Chief Commissioner for Youth Programme) and Therese Bermingham (Chief Commissioner for Adult Resources).<ref name="NMC">Template:Cite web</ref> Pat O'Sulleabhain is the Chairperson of the National Spiritual and Religious Advisory Panel.<ref name="NMC"/>

The remainder of the NMC is made up of the six Provincial Commissioners, the International Commissioner, the Communications Commissioner, and six ordinary members.<ref name="NMC"/> Scouting Ireland's Chief Executive Officer is John Lawlor, who is based in National Office in Larch Hill.<ref name="CEO">Template:Cite web</ref> The CEO is expected to attend and contribute to NMC meetings.<ref name="SI Const Sec45">Template:Cite web</ref>

Youth participation[edit]

A National Youth Forum is held each year with representatives from the Scout, Venture Scout and Rover Scout sections. Representatives debate motions relating to the running of the association and their own sections. Successful motions are carried forward to the relevant national bodies, even National Council. Each forum elects 9 representatives who then represent the interests of youth members on various committees throughout their term of office (one year). 3 ordinary members of the National Management Committee must also be under the age of 26 on the day of election.


Campsites and Scout centres in Scouting Ireland, may be owned and operated Nationally, or by a Scout County, or Scout Group, or run by a group of volunteers on behalf of SI. Larch Hill in Tibradden, Co. Dublin, and Lough Dan near Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, are the national campsites, having been inherited from Scouting Ireland (CSI) and Scouting Ireland S.A.I. respectively. Other nationally owned campsites include Mount Melleray Scout Centre in the Knockmealdown Mountains near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford and Castle Saunderson International Scouting Centre, a new campsite in Co. Cavan while the National Water Activity Centre (NWAC) is located in Killaloe, Co. Clare.<ref name="kill">Template:Cite web</ref> Locally run campsites are located in Kilcully, Co. Cork, Collon, Co. Louth, Srahan Scout Centre, Co. Laois, Dundrum International Scout Campsite, Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, and Glendale Lodge, Glencree, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.<ref name="kilcully">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="shrahan">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="ScoutingIreland.comTipp">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="SI.comWick">Template:Cite web</ref>

International Scouting[edit]

Claire McAroe is the International Commissioner for Scouting Ireland.<ref name="NMC"/>

A number of Irish people have held office at international level, including as Chairman of the European Scout Committee and as Vice Chairman of the World Scout Committee. Howard E. Kilroy served as Chairman of the World Scout Foundation's Investment Committee.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In 2001 John Geoghegan was appointed director of the World Scout Foundation<ref name="WSF">Template:Cite web</ref>

Five Irish Scouts have been awarded the Bronze Wolf Award by the World Scout Committee, Edward J. Montgomery (1977), Desmond Fay (1984), Jeremiah Kelly (1985), Howard Kilroy (2010) and Therese Bermingham (2015).

Scouting Ireland hosted Jamboree 2008, its first international Jamboree from 2–10 August 2008.<ref name='Leinster Leader'>Template:Cite news</ref> It was held in Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare with the aim of celebrating one hundred years of Scouting in Ireland.<ref name='Leinster Leader'/> Around 12,500 Irish and overseas Scouts attended the event.<ref name='Leinster Leader'/> The next Scouting Ireland National Jamboree will be held in 2018 at Stradbally, Co Laois.

In 2014, Scouting Ireland won the bid to host the 16th World Scout Moot an international Jamboree style event for Rover Scouts, which is due to take place in the summer of 2021.

In January 2016, Scouting Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lesotho Scouts Association.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The countries will participate in a partnership called Lumela-Fáilte, based on intercultural sharing. The partnership has been in progress since 2010, with Scouting Ireland supporting two Basotho Rover Scouts to attend the 2015 World Scout Jamboree.

Star Scout Show[edit]

The "Star Scout Show" is where members of Scouting Ireland perform acts of different kinds on stage. It usually takes place in Saint Patrick's College, Dublin. There is a song written especially for the show by Paul Redmond called "We Carry the Light". The show, performing to capacity audiences over three days, features a wide range of acts with music, dancing, drama and comedy, performed by Scouting Ireland Members of all ages and from several locations around Ireland, together with a strong representation from Dublin.<ref>National Star Scout Show</ref>

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