Article from the 'Carlow Advertiser' 1993
When the Irish Boy Scouts came into being in 1908
it was largely composed of the Protestant fraternity and
although there were a good many Catholic boys in the movement it
was viewed by many nationalists as a means of preparing Irish
boys to fight for King and Empire.
Na Fianna Éireann
this Countess Markevitz formed the National Boy Scouts - Na
Fianna Eireann in 1909. Extract from an address to the boys of
Ireland - under the heading National Boy Scouts: "The object of
Na Fianna Éireann is to train the boys of Ireland to fight
Ireland's battle when they are men. Our Programme includes every
element of a military training. We are not mere 'Boy Scouts',
although we learn and practice the art of scouting. The Fianna
will constitute what the old Irish called the Macradh, or Boy
Troop, of the Volunteers, and will correspond to what is called
in France 'an Ecole Polythecnique' or Military School."
In 1913, Rev.
Brother McKenna Christian Brothers Academy, with assistance from
Rev. Brother Foran and Rev. T. H. Burbage B.D., D.C.L.
(President) started a branch of the National Boy Scouts in
National Boy scouts were regular participants at every
Irish-Ireland Meeting, Rally, Demonstration, Feis, Sports etc.,
for several years, and were acclaimed for their Warpipers Band.
This Pipe Band was in later years to evolve into
the Carlow Pipers Band. The Civil War was to set the stage for
the decline of the National Boy Scouts, or as they came to be
called Fianna Éireann Boy Scouts, this was due to their
political stance i.e. Anti-Free State. The Carlow Pipers were to
continue to march beneath the old banner, a magnificent flag
with a sunburst design, now in the County Museum, Carlow town.
The flag was designed by Brother McKenna and painted by a Mr. P.
Donohue who had a
business in Dublin Street. The flag was displayed in his shop
prior to its presentation and blessing.
Hanging not too far away
from the Na Fianna Éireann Banner is the original banner of the
1st Carlow Troop of the Assumption Catholic Boy Scouts of
Ireland, (C.B.S.I.). It too has a sunburst design and was a very
heavy flag to carry, with lots of embroidery and brocade. This
troop was formed in 1929 two years after the formation of
C.B.S.I. The founders of the 1st Carlow were Jack Gil trap, a
Scoutmaster from Dublin, Rev. Brother Foran (the same of
National Boy Scout involvement) and the Rev. Dr. Miller, who was
also involved in the National Boy Scouts. It was very
appropriate that the first troop of C.B.S.I. Scouts in the
Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin should have been started in
Carlow town as this is the Bishop's own parish. The two colours
chosen for the troop were Sky Blue and White, which, in black
and white photos, looks all white.
No sooner had
the troop been established that the officers were off helping to
start up other troops. The 2nd Carlow in Graiguecullen
considered themselves to be the first C.B.S.I. troop in Leix!!
Then the 1st and 2nd Carlow helped establish Bagenalstown; the
1st went on to Borris (always by bike) and camped overnight for
Whit Weekend. On Sunday, Liam Trundle, who was Scoutmaster of
the 1st at this time, was first of all given the "third degree"
by the P.P. on the aims of Catholic Scouting and then invited to
address the congregation after Mass to explain what scouting was
about, and answer any questions arising. Liam tells me he
sweated blood standing on that chair outside the Church
(Politicians of the period and long after did the same). His
efforts were successful and a troop was formed. But not always
was he received with open arms. The P.P. in Castledermot refused
to entertain scouting, convinced it was a militarist movement.
Naas was another success, though it took a bit of fast talking
on Liam's part.
But scouting is
not all about hiking, camping, map reading, wide games, camp
fires, observing nature, exploring and a host of other
activities; it is also about being part of the community, of
involvement in other organisations, sports, civic Scout leaders
find rugby an ideal pastime as it is played during the winter
months (usually in the rain) when short nights, inclement
weather and so forth make it a little difficult to partake of
outdoor pursuits, though many camps and hikes do take place in
were a time of many religious events. Just to name a few, the
Eucharistic congress in 1932 to which Carlow sent a fully
trained first-aid team (consisting of S.M. Wm. Trundle, A.S.
Master T. Croughan, P.L. Johnny Harding, P.L. Paddy Bergin, P.L.
J. Kearns, A.P.L. Peter McEvoy, A.P.L. A. Cooper, A.P.L. J.
Phelan, A.P.L. Jimmy Dunne, Scouts, Peadar O'Neill, Lar Reddy,
Jos. Hewitt, Dennis Mulrooney, James Nolan, Kevin Murray, J.
Whelan, M. Moore, Paddy Haughney, Pierce Donohue, Seamus Hayden)
was to be a showcase for scouting and in every photo taken of
the congress, are to be seen scouts on duty. There were also
annual scout pilgrimages to the Shrine of Blessed Oliver
Plunkett and many others.
Forties there were many combined parades, scouts, L.D.F., L.S.F.,
Fire Brigade, Red Cross etc. All "Stepped Together" and there
was also "Step Together" sports. Many new troops came into
existence at this time - namely Ardattin, The 4th Carlow
Assumption, The 5th Carlow Graiguecullen, The 3rd Laois, St.
Fintans, 4th Laois, St. Patricks, (Both in Mountrath) 4th
Wicklow, Baltinglass. The Knights Errant were formed at this
time as was a Wolf Cub pack. The 1st Carlow brought out its own
weekly magazine in this period called "The Cross and Shamrock."
They carried out correspondence with a French troop and of
course listened to "The Voice of International Scouting' on
Radio Luxembourg. In the Mid Forties the scouts revived the Pipe
Band and the Carlow Pipers were on the march again.
Scouting in Carlow / Graiguecullen became dormant due in part to
immigration, when "Many Young Men of Twenty said Goodbye." Na
Fianna Eireann were active during these decades also and some
towns, notably Tullow, had a very active Sluadh, as did Carlow
from time to time.
Alive and Kicking
In 1953 on 8th
January scouting came alive again under Johnny Callinan as S.M.
with Paddy Brophy, Tony O'Hanlon and Tony Kirwan as A.S.Ms. Tony
Kirwan had for a time Pipe Major of the Carlow Pipers Band. In
fact most on its members were ex-scouts.
A meeting took
place on January 8th, 1953 and since then troop scouting in
Carlow has gone from strength to strength. Also in 1953 Dame
Leslie Watley director of World Association guides visited
One of the
biggest headaches of all Scout Troops is the poor availability
of a meeting place; in fact in 1957 we were meeting at various
times in the Town Hall, the old school and the bicycle shed at
Bishop Foley School. The troop was very close to extinction for
this lack of a permanent meeting place. We were very fortunate
in 1958 to be given two rooms by Muintir na Tire in their Guild
Hall in John Street, where we established our Den for five
years. In 1962 we returned to the old school and it was here
that the 5th Carlow Troop of the Assumption was founded,
creating the 1st Carlow unit of the Assumption, incorporating
1st and 5th Carlow Troops.
In 1965 the
biggest project ever to be undertaken by a scout troop was
launched. The building of a Scout Den. The Building is a log
cabin type and was opened and blessed in 1967. During this time
the 1st had amalgamated with the 5th and would remain as the 5th
Carlow Troop of the Assumption for a number of years until the
unit was revived in 1968 with the addition of two cub packs.
The sixties saw
the introduction of a new handbook for scouts as well as long
trousers and shirts for the Federation of Irish Scouts
Source: Carlow Now and Then Summer 1998. Vol. 1 – No. 4
Page 9 – 11