Thursday 14 November 2019

Remembering fun and friendships

Eimear Dodd

There will be huge celebrations in Arklow Girl Guides as the company marks its 80th anniversary in the town.

To mark the occasion, a special Mass will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin in the Church of Sts. Mary and Peter at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 7.

Guiding came to Arklow in 1939. The company was established in the Convent of Mercy and given the name 'Muire na Trocaire' in honour of the nuns where it was started.

District captain Maura Nolan set up the company and ten members were initially enrolled in May 1939. A month later, a further eleven girls enrolled. Membership of the Arklow Girl Guides and Brigini has included three generations from the same families who provided the very first members.

In 1940, Maura Nolan returned to Arklow to enter the Convent as a Novice. She was also known as Sister Agnes Cecilia Nolan who brought worldwide acclaim and fame to St Mary's College through music and her choirs.

The programme for guides has always been varied with a wide range of merit badges. The first Brigin group was formed in Arklow in the 1970s. In response to demand, a second company, 'Naomh Dagan', was set up. Brigin groups currently cater for six to eleven year olds and most Brigini move on to the Guides when they reach the age of eligibility.

Guiding also afforded many girls the opportunity to travel around Ireland at a time when family holidays didn't tend to occur. The guides used hostels for their annual summer camps. International trips have also been organised to places including Lourdes, Prague, Vienna, Paris and London.

In 2000, the Arklow Girl Guides and their leaders travelled to Rome to celebrate the Jubilee Year. They also attended the Pope's Mass in St Peter's Square.

Diocesan competitions brought much fame to Arklow from the 1960s and the 1990s. Girl Guides brought home many trophies for their skills in areas including campfire singing, junior and senior history, junior and senior liturgy, verse speaking, nature study and flower arranging.

Arklow also won the overall award, the Major Shield Trophy, many times over the years which was presented to the company judged to be the best in the Diocese of Dublin.

In 1985, a company of Arklow guides teamed up with a group of local scouts in an international project to commemorate the international youth year and, under the coordination of Anna Keane, they won a special awards with their project.

Anna Keane, is the area commissioner, covering the south Wicklow area and is assisted by a group of leaders who volunteer each week to run the Brigini and Guide companies. There are currently 45 Brigini and 16 Guides.

All current and past members are invited to attend this special occasion.

Wicklow People