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Scouting Ireland ( ) is the World Organization of the Scout Movement-recognised Scouting association in Irelandmarker, although it also has Scout Groups in Northern Irelandmarker. 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 or gender, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by Robert Baden-Powell and as stated by WOSM.

The aim of Scouting Ireland is to "encourage the physical, intellectual, social, spiritual and cultural development of its members so that they may achieve their full potential and, as responsible citizens, contribute and improve society." Of the 750,000 people between the ages of 6 and 18 in Ireland, approximately 2.5% participate in Scouting Ireland.

The organisation was founded on January 1, 2004 after a merge between Scouting Ireland C.S.I. and Scouting Ireland S.A.I.. Its headquarters are at Larch Hillmarker, County Dublinmarker.


The Scouting Ireland organisation has its basis in two separate Irish Scouting organisations — the Scouting Association of Ireland (SAI), and the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI). The former traces its roots to 1908, and the latter was founded in 1926 - both trace their legacy to Baden Powell's Scout Movement.

By 1908, the influence of Powell's Scouting movement had spread from Englandmarker to Ireland. The earliest known Scouting event in Ireland took place in the Phoenix Parkmarker in 1908 with members of the Dublin City Boy Scouts (later Scouting Ireland S.A.I.) taking part.

Because of the impacts to available 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. Scouts contributed to the war effort in several ways; notably the Sea Scouts, who took supported regular coast guardsmen.

In Dublinmarker in the 1920s, two 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. After some study and experimentation, they made a proposal to the bishops of Ireland and were granted a constitution and Episcopal patronage in November 1926. Thus, the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (Gasóga Catoilici na hÉireann) was created. The CBSI would later become the largest Scout association on the island.

When war (and The Emergency) 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.

Emblem of the Federation of Irish Scout Associations

In 1965, CBSI joined with the Scout Association of Ireland 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 traditionally recognises only one Scouting body in each country, only SAI had been recognised by WOSM (since 1949). Similarly, the Northern Irish Scout Council (NISC) only 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 frontiers.

Although aligned through FISA, these two separate Scouting organisations (the SAI and CBSI) operated as separate entities through the latter half of the 20th century. Then, on January 1, 2004, the two organisations were merged to form "Scouting Ireland". This followed a poll in 2003, when both associations voted to join together to form a new single association. This in turn had followed from a 1998 decision to set this process in motion.

Scouting Ireland now has 33,994 members across the island of Irelandmarker (as of 2008), including Northern Irelandmarker where it works in partnership with the Scout Association of Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom Scout Association The Scout Association.

Local volunteers are now supported by a centralised full-time (professional) staff, who support the day to day running of the association.

Scout method

Scouting Ireland achieves its aims through a system of progressive self-education, known as the Scout method. The principal elements are:
  • Voluntary membership of a group which, guided by adults, is increasingly self-governing in its successive age groups.
  • Commitment to a code of living as expressed in the promise and law, the meaning of which is expanded as the member grows towards maturity.
  • The provision of a wide range of attractive, constructive and challenging activities, including opportunities for adventure and exploration, camping both indoors and outdoors.
  • The provision of opportunities for leadership and responsibility.
  • Learning by doing.
  • Encouragement of activities in small groups.
  • An award scheme, which encourages participation in its full range of activities and provides recognition and group achievements. Awards are often given in the form of merit badges.
  • The use of symbolic frameworks which stimulate the imagination and provide a purpose for activities .


Scouting Ireland offers a programme for youth members ages between 6 and 20 years 365 days. In 2009 it was decided that there should be five sections as follows, to be introduced between April 2010 & April 2013. This will be broken into five different sections:

  • Sea Scouts - Sea Scouts follow the normal scouting programme, with an emphasis on water activities and with a nautical symbolic framework. Sea Scouts follow the same age ranges as the Scout and Venture Sections however in many cases both these sections will work closely together as one unit.

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.

Sections to be phased out

Prior to the introduction of the new sections, the age ranges of the former associations are used by Groups.This results in roughly five sections (with approximate age ranges) as below:

Management and representation

Scout Group

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 pack, for example.The Group is managed by the Group Council, headed up by the Group Leader. Other Officers include a Secretary, Chairperson, Treasurer and Trainer. Sections are represented by Programme Scouters, and Scouts and Ventures may send representatives from time to time.

Scout County

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 is there to support 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 Scouters and representatives of Scouts and Ventures in each County elect County Officers (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, County Officers and Co-Ordinators and manages the County on behalf of the Board.


For organisational purposes, Ireland is divided into six Scout Provinces; namely the Northern, Southern, North Eastern, South Eastern, Western and metropolitan Dublin provinces. The Provincial Commissioner appoints a Training Co-Ordinator as well as Youth Programme and International representatives. The Provincial Support/Management 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

The primary decision making body of Scouting Ireland is the National Council (NC), which meets at least once a year. Membership consists of members of the National Management Committee (NMC), County Officers, Group Leaders, Group delegates, National, Provincial and County Venture and Scout representatives. The NC elects Provincial Commissioners, National Officers and ordinary members of the NMC when required.

It was decided in 2005 to rotate the honour of hosting National Council among the six Provinces of every year.

National Management Committee

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. He was elected by National Council in March 2009, for a term to end in 2012.

Other National Officers include Michael Devins (National Secretary), Niall Walsh (National Treasurer), Kiernan J. Gildea (Chief Commissioner for Youth Programme). Rev. Gillian Wharton has been the Chairperson of the National Spiritual and Religious Advisory Panel since Scouting Ireland's National Council 2006.

The remainder of the NMC is made up of the six Provincial Commissioners, and six ordinary members. The professional staff are headed up by a CEO, currently Éamonn Lynch, who is based in National Office in Larch Hill. The CEO is expected to attend and contribute to NMC meetings

Youth participation

Annually the National Scout Forum and the National Venture Scout Forum meet. These fora debate motions relating to the running of the association. Membership of the fora represent each Scout County in Ireland and are elected at Regional fora by their peers. Successful motions are carried forward to the relevant national bodies. 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 be under the age of 26 on the day of election.There is also the provincial forum that picks the motions that are passed to national scout forum.

Renewed Approach to Programme

Scouting Ireland is currently developing a new programme using WOSM's Renewed Approach to Programme methodology. It was felt after the formation of Scouting Ireland that a redesigned programme would add coherency to the implementation of Youth Programme in the 21st century. The Programme Development Team meet regularly to assess how the needs and aspirations of young people have changed over time and how best to design activities that remain challenging for Scouting Ireland's youth members. Scouting Ireland inherited two separate programmes from its legacy associations, thus prompting the need to create a single method.

The stated aim of the RAP process is to meet the needs of young people, parents, Scouters and communities through the provision of:

For young people

  • Application of the Scout Method
  • Attractive and imaginative programme
  • Balance of numbers between Sections
  • Effective transitions between Sections
  • Effective Youth Involvement

For adults

  • Consistency
  • Practicality
  • Support via resource material

Through this process it is hoped to build a bridge between the aspirations of young people and the expectations and challenges of society.


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 Hillmarker in Tibraddenmarker, Co.marker Dublinmarker, and Lough Danmarker near Roundwoodmarker, Co.marker Wicklowmarker, 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 Mountainsmarker near Cappoquinmarker, Co.marker Waterfordmarker, while the National Water Activity Centre (NWAC) is located in Killaloemarker, Co.marker Claremarker. Locally run campsites are located in Kilcully, Co.marker Corkmarker, and Srahan Scout Centre, Co.marker Laoismarker.

International Scouting

International representation

Ann Foley is the International Commissioner for Scouting Ireland.

Thérèse Bermingham was Vice President/Vice Chairman of the World Scout Committee. Her term of office ends in 2011. Howard E. Kilroy is Chairman of the World Scout Foundation's Investment Committee

In 2001 John Geoghegan was appointed director of the World Scout Foundation.

International awards

Two Irish Scouts have been awarded the Bronze Wolf by the World Scout Committee, Edward J. Montgomery and Jeremiah Kelly.

International jamborees

Scouting Ireland hosted Jamboree 2008, its first international Jamboree from August 2-10 August 2008. It was held in Punchestown Racecoursemarker, County Kildaremarker with the aim of celebrating one hundred years of Scouting in Irelandmarker. Over 13,500 Irish and overseas scouts attended the event.

National Star Scout Show

The "National 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, Dublinmarker. 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 Irelandmarker, together with a strong representation from Dublin.


Smack! is a digital magazine written and published by a group of Ventures and Scouts with information relating to youth members in Scouting Ireland.

See also


  1. WOSM Circular N° 9 / May 2004
  2. Some statistics / National Scout Organisations / Countries / Around the world / Home - World Organization of the Scout Movement
  4. Chief Scout announce resignation
  5. New Chief Scout elected 2008

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