Scouting Ireland (CSI)

Scouting Ireland (CSI)

Scouting Ireland (CSI) was a WOSM affiliated National Scout Organisation in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland from 1927 to December 31, 2003. It has since merged with Scouting Ireland S.A.I. to form Scouting Ireland. The organisation was founded as the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland, went on to become the Catholic Scouts of Ireland before becoming Scouting Ireland (CSI). 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 heralded a new dawn 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. [ Accessed at 21:38 August 7, 2006] Its National Headquarters was at Larch Hill.


couting - An Outline History

In 1907 Major General Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell took twenty boys on camp to Brownsea Island, near Poole Harbour, Dorset. He was trying out an idea that had grown in his mind over many years. At Brownsea Island he saw that his idea of Scouting worked and in 1908 he published "Scouting for Boys" in fortnightly parts. At once all over England, boys took up the idea and formed their own Patrols. Then, find that they needed help, they asked grown-ups to give a hand, so the Scout Association was founded in 1908.

Because Royal Charter protected this Association, no other Scout group could be started in Ireland until independence was granted. Though a few individual Catholic Scout groups existed earlier, it was not until 1927 that the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (Later changed to Scouting Ireland (CSI)) was founded by Father Tom Farrell.

The early days of C.B.S.I

For many years two Dublin priests, Fr. Tom J. Farrell, and Fr. Ernest R. Farrell, had been aware of the pressing need for an organisation for boys of the Catholic faith. These priests had long lived and worked in the heart of Dublin, and the sight of boys in endeavouring to play their games amidst the smoke and grime of the city caused them to action. They studied the youth question deeply and in their study their attention was drawn to Scouting as practised abroad. They noticed that in other countries the Church had taken up the idea of Scouting and had cultivated it in a Catholic atmosphere and that the result was excellent

It was in Greystones Co. Wicklow that Father Ernest first went into action as founder and chaplain of a boy's organisation carrying out hiking, drill and other activities of a Scouting nature. This was in the 1925 period. Also under the nom-de-plume " Sagart " he wrote a series of articles in Our Boys, the popular magazine published by the Christian Brothers, advocating the formation of an official Catholic Scout organisation.

But long months of study and work were necessary before the movement as we know it was ready to be launched in Ireland

Fr. Tom Farrell was at this time a curate in the Pro-Cathedral, Marlborough Street (the City Centre). He watched his brother's Greystones experiment with interest

Every detail had to be checked up and acre was always taken that Catholic teaching gave it life that would make it suitable for Irish boys.

Finally, the Constitution was drawn up and presented to the Hierarchy for examination the sanction and blessing of the Bishops of Ireland was given in November 1926 he was ready for it.

Slowly at first it was set on the way for its founders were anxious that no premature expansion should spoil it. But soon the news of the success of the first Troops spread and inquiries flowed in from every quarter of Ireland. Machinery was for organisation, registration and supply of uniforms from a Central Office, and National Headquarters, came into being. The two founders were appointed National Chaplain and National Secretary and an executive Board were formed to discuss matters of policy and management. Regional Councils were set up to organise the affairs of each region and appoint regional commissioners and other necessary officers. The growth, as time went on, was truly astounding: it was the sure proof that the material was there all the time and that the boys of Ireland needed a movement such as this.

The first chief

At an early stage Mr. John O'Neill, a leading motor works proprietor who had been associated with Fr. Ernest's Greystones venture, became Chief Scout. He did much useful work but unfortunately few records of his term of office survive. He was a former member of Seanad Éireann.

It was Fr. Tom who took the initiative. He personally negotiated with uniform manufacturers and he stored uniforms for years at the Marlborough St. presbytery. He set up the first " national committee ", although it could be claimed with some truth that Fr. Ernest took more of the initiative here and that this forerunner of the National Executive Board Fr. Tom kept up constant contact with the hierarchy, and with the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Passionists, Jesuits, Capuchins and other religious houses, all of which started C.B.S.I. troops in Dublin at a very early period.

Fr. Tom was a most kindly man, beloved by all that knew him. He was a boy at heart and really loved his contacts with the boys. Fr. Ernest was austere and distant and not able to come down to the level of the Scouts with whom he was associated (although we must be grateful to him for his wonderful pioneering work). Fr. Tom was the idol of many, and was a great mixer. In 1929 he felt he should acquire a greater grasp on the practicalities of Scouting and Leadership, so he enlisted for a training course at Gilwell Park London, every moment of which he enjoyed. His photograph and name are still to be seen there.

As well as being founder he served as National Secretary (an unusual position for a priest) of the C.B.S.I . for no less than fourteen years, until his premature and widely mourned death as P.P. of Dolphin's Barn in 1940 . It can truthfully be said that he was the greatest seed-sower in the movement.

Catholic emancipation celebrations

Hardly had the young Organisation found its feet when it received its first test. In 1929 the Catholic Emancipation Celebrations were held in Dublin, and the people of Ireland flocked to the Capital in thousands. Scouts were called for many duties. It was a truly colossal task to undertake the stewarding of such crowds, but the officers knew that the discipline of the boys were well equal to all calls, and that having learning to control themselves they were well qualified to control others. Visitors were amazed to see the young boys directing traffic and treating injured persons with calm assurance. They had been tried and had not been found wanting.

The Eucharistic Congress

The ensuing years brought bigger numbers and more Troops, and in 1932 came the biggest Scout assignment. The Eucharistic Congress Celebrations were on a scale bigger than that of any Congress ever before held in Ireland, and the aid of the C.B.S.I. was asked for and readily given. From every county in Ireland Scouts came to great general camp in Terenure, where over 1,500 of them were under canvas for that week. The feeding and organisation of the camp was a masterpiece, but the work of the organisers did not, of course, stop there. Routes had to be cordoned off for the arrival of the Cardinal Legate, for his reception at the Pro-Cathedral and at the monster garden party held in Blackrock College, and for all this 500 Scouts were required. All the week they acted as guides to the polyglot meetings that were held every day at many centres in the city; stewarding had to be done at the mass meeting in the Phoenix Park, and all the time first aid posts had to be constantly manned by 400 trained Scouts. Then, on the final Sunday, Scouts acted as guards at the High Altar in the Park and at O'Connell Bridge, and 400 of them had charge of many Church and civil dignitaries and conducted them to their places. These tasks were no mere sinecures, but once more the training of the boys rose to the occasion and their conduct throughout the week received the highest praise.

=The Great Pilgr

In 1934 came another milestone in the life of the Movement. Led by Cardinal MacRory, Bishop Collier and the members of the Executive Board, a Pilgrimage was organised to go to Rome and participate in the Holy Year exercises. Twelve hundred Scouts and friends sailed from Dublin on the liner Lancastria, and got a great reception wherever the pilgrims called, particularly at Gibraltar. The great moment came when the Scouts were received in audience by Pope Pius XI. As the Holy Father entered the Hall of Audiences, carried in state, cheer after cheer rent the air. Descending from the sedia gestatoria, the Holy Father graciously inspected missionary outfits presented by the Scouts, examined with great interest the Troop Colours that had been grouped around the Papal Throne, and blessed a copy of the Scout Constitution.

Back to the quietlife again, the work of the Organisation went on, and yearly thousands of boys joined the ranks and more and more troops were established, until there was not a parish that did not know the uniform and hardly a county that had not a band of happy campers during the Summer months


*Fr. Ernest Farrell, a curate in Greystones, Co. Wicklow founded a boys parochial group, which wore Scout-Like uniforms. He was subsequently transferred to St. Stephen's Green where he began another group, which operated the Scouting method. At about this time he published a series of Scouting articles in Our Boys, which attracted widespread interest.

*At the same time his brother Fr. Tom Farrell, a curate in the Pro -Cathedral was working towards the formation of a national Catholic Scout Association. Formal hierarchy approval was given in November 1926 but 1927, the year the first National Executive Committee began to function, is generally taken to be the year that the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland was founded.

*Members of the CBSI acted as stewards at the International Eucharistic Congress. A special camp for Scouts participating was held in the grounds of Terenure College.

*The Association organised a pilgrimage to Rome, which was attended by Scouts from all over the country. During the trip Sir Martin Melvin, the then owner of the English Catholic newspaper, the Universe, presented a trophy, subsequently named in his honour, aboard the S.S. Lancastria. This trophy was presented each year to the winners of the National Scout Campcraft Competition, the Melvin, which was held each August. Teams of 8 scouts would compete in a range of different scout activities. The last competition was held in 2003 at Mount Melleray Abbey in Waterford.

*A large CBSI delegation travelled on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in its centenary year.

*CBSI joined with the Scout Association of Ireland to form the Federation of Irish Scouts Associations. (FISA). Each Association in the federation is fully independent and autonomous but through FISA each participates in international events.

*To celebrate its 40th Birthday, the Association held a National Camp at Lismore Co. Waterford. It was attended by 3,500 Scouts.

*The Association's Golden Jubilee Year is marked by major events throughout the country, culminating in a major International camp held in the grounds of Mount Melleray Abbey, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.
*A new drive to revive Scouting in low-income, inner city areas in Dublin gets under way with the revival of a Troop in Sean McDermott Street.

*A Jamboree, "Portumna '85" organised by all Scouting Associations in Ireland ( C.B.S.I., S.A.I. , and N.I.S.C.) is held in Portumna, Co. Galway to celebrate International Youth Year.

*The second Jamboree, "Gosford '89" organised by all Scouting Associations in Ireland ( C.B.S.I., S.A.I. , and N.I.S.C.) is held in Gosford, Co. Down.

*The second Jamboree, "Ballyfin '93" organised by all Scouting Associations in Ireland ( C.B.S.I., S.A.I. , and N.I.S.C.) is held in Ballyfin, Co. Laois.

*C.B.S.I. changes name to Scouting Ireland (CSI).

*Scouting Ireland S.A.I. and Scouting Ireland (CSI) both vote to begin discussions on joining together to form a new single association.

*Scouting Ireland S.A.I. and Scouting Ireland (CSI) both vote to joining together to form a new single association.

*Scouting Ireland was formed on 1 January 2004 from the two original Scout associations in Ireland, Scouting Ireland S.A.I. and Scouting Ireland (CSI).

Chief Scouts

enator John O' Neill (1927-1930)

The first Chief Scout of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland served for over three decades and oversaw the growth of the movement from the idealism of Fr. Tom to the embryonic stages of development and onto the spread of Catholic Scouting throughout the parishes of Ireland.

CJ "Kit" Murphy (1930-1962)

Kit Murphy had the distinction of presenting the last Silver Palm award, the forerunner to the Chief Scout's Award to David Barry and Bill O' Mahony of the 37th Cork (Togher).

Professor JB Whelehan

JB Whelehan was a secondary school teacher at St. Jarlath's College in Tuam, Co. Galway. Teachers at that school adopted the title of Professor for the duration of their career at the school.The greatest success of Professor Whelehan was the purchase of the estate at Larch Hill, which went on to become the national campsite and headquarters (after the move from Herbert Place)

Brigadier General PD Hogan

Often known as just "the Colonel" Patrick Hogan was a shock election as Chief Scout as his profession, a member of the Irish Army placed severe restrictions on his time. Stephen Spain MA was Deputy Chief Scout and was called on to deputise for the Chief throughout his term of office. Brigadier General Hogan passed away in 2004 at his home in Cyprus. [ [ Scouts in Ireland, Scouting Ireland, - News ] ]

JD Hally BE BSc

Jim Hally was a much loved Chief Scout who was ever-present at events until his passing in Summer 2005. He was County Engineer for Waterford and a member of the Waterford inshore lifeboat. During his time as Chief he presented 6 Melvin Trophies to Cork Troops, on 4 consequtive occasions to the 37th Cork (Togher), once to the 42nd Cork (Ss. Peter and Paul's) and once to the 60th Cork (Togher). He was a member of the Scout Foundation, the trust company for the properties of Scouting Ireland and the curator of the Scout Museum at Mount Melleray Abbey Scout Centre up until his death.

Joseph Lawlor

Joseph Lawlor served two separate terms as Chief Scout. He presided over the CBSI/SAI/SANI Jamboree hosted at Ballyfin, Co. Offaly in 1993. Joseph Lawlor started his Scouting career in Baldoyle and then became Scout leader of the 80th Coolock Artane unit. After his retirement as Chief Scout he became the Director of The National Scout Show from 1986 till 1992 and then became Chief Scout for a second term in 1992. He took up the position as Director of The National Scout Show in 1998 till 2006

Paul Ring

Paul Ring joined Catholic Boy Scouts within the 66th Clontarf unit as a Cub Scout. On the formation of the 92nd Dublin (St. Anthony’s Clontarf) he became the Cub Scout leader there. He became area commissioner for the Cub section in the Dublin North East area. During the formation of the St. Bridget’s region, Paul became the RegionAal Commissioner and then became Chief Scout. After his time as Chief Scout in CBSI he joined the National Venture Team and became chairman of the Cluain Torc County in the new Association to be known as Scouting Ireland, in 2004.

Peter Dixon

A native of County Louth, Peter Dixon was the final Chief Scout before the merge to Scouting Ireland. He is still a prominent member of Scouting Ireland and a coordinator for the Gifts of Peace project. He was generally received as a warm and committed Chief Scout.

See also

Larch Hill


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