On Monday 15th April in the Four Seasons Hotel, past and present members of 2nd Monaghan, Monaghan Town Scout group, travelled from near and far to attend the launch of a very special book.
75 years of Scouting Memories from a Border Town is a publication that was produced as part of a project that Monaghan County Council in partnership with 2nd Monaghan, Monaghan Town Scout group undertook with funding from the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The aim of the book was to capture memories and stories of the generations past and present who at one time were involved as a beaver, cub or scout themselves or had been a volunteer or leader with the group. In compiling the book, the group carried out a series of intergenerational events and activities in which stories, memoires and photographs were captured and collated. Very special thanks were given to all the boys and girls who assisted with carrying out interviews and took a real interest in listening to scouting stories from our past.
As invited guests arrived on Monday evening, they were treated to a wonderful array of musical talent from beavers, cups and scouts of the current group. MC for the evening was Donal Mc Elwain, current scout leader. Donal began by welcoming Leo Colton, current cub to the stage, who commenced proceedings by leading in the Scout prayer. Fiona Mc Entee, Youth Development Officer with Monaghan County Council was then invited up to outline the background to the project. Uniting Generations Together Peace IV project delivered several projects across the County. “The scouting together project was just 1 of 6 projects which brought younger and older people together to engage in activities of interest, allowing integration and breaking down barriers”, Fiona stated. Last year a call out was made for submissions, intergenerational events were hosted in the Scout den and a cross border event took place in Castle Saunderson. Over 80 scouts attended this event from both sides of the border, all sharing stories and participating in activities together on the day. Fiona acknowledged her gratitude and appreciation to current group leader, Donal Mc Elwain and cub leader John Mc Mahon “without Donal & Johns knowledge, enthusiasm commitment and assistance we wouldn’t be here today launching this wonderful book”.
75 years in the making
John Mc Mahon, current cub leader than took the audience through the history of the establishment of the group in Monaghan. “Three uniformed boys wearing the orange and green neckerchiefs of the Cavan Troop of Catholic Boy Scouts arrived in Monaghan Town on bicycles completing one of their First-Class Tests, which required a journey of 30 miles. The month was April and the year was 1944.” John continued “it so happened that Gerard Magill and Philip Mac Dermott were very interested onlookers as they had been previously discussing the possibility of reforming the scouts in Monaghan. And the rest, as they say is history! There was great excitement among the youth in Monaghan when they heard that the scouts were being formed and at the first meeting of the group in St Joseph’s Hall on the 4th May 1944 nearly 50 boys were present.
Since the purpose of the Intergenerational project was all about younger and older past and present members meeting and sharing stories of their time in scouts, it was fitting that, invited to speak next was past member Benny Mc Aree and current member Jamie Mc Elwain. Benny recalled happy times spent competing for the inter-patrol, much coveted “Shield” over many weeks in various disciplines. The highlight of the scouting year was the annual camp and as Benny outlined “for a young boy back then you may as well have been going to far off Africa, such was the excitement of heading to camp. It was all you talked about all year!”. Jamie Mc Elwain informed us that he joined beavers when he was just 6 years old. Having worked his way through cups and now scouts he is now in his 9th year as a member of 2nd Monaghan, Monaghan Town Scout group. He recalled the many fantastic leaders who had been assisting the groups over the years and the many friendships he has made. He had fond memories of scout camps and skills learned and looks forward to many more happy years within the scout movement in Monaghan. He concluded with a very apt quote from Robert Baden Bowell, founder and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Boy Scout Movement, “We never fail when we try to do our duty, we always fail when we neglect to do it”.
Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Cllr David Maxwell was invited on stage to officially launch the book. Before carrying out the official proceedings he was happy to let all present know what he too had been a scout in his younger days! Recounting some his memoires, he was with the scout group till he was 17 years old. Annual camps, weekly challenges and firm friendships were made. “I made many friends in scouts, that I would still call friends today, although some of them could be in all parts of the world, the friendships are still strong and due to our many years and happy memories in Scouting in Monaghan”. A special word of thanks was given to past scout, Ellen Mc Ateer who designed the beautiful front cover of the book.
The evening concluded with refreshments and circulation of copies of the book to all present. Over a cup of tea, there was lots of laughter as those present scanned the many old photography’s included in the book. Monaghan County Council wish to express their sincere thanks and appreciation to the work of all the volunteers down through the years who dedicated their time and commitment to the 2nd Monaghan, Monaghan Town Scouts.