Sea Rangers in 1968

sea rangers

A few weeks ago Jim Cooke from Rathfarnham posted in a newspaper clipping of some local girls training to be Sea Scouts.

After some investigation in the local libraries we discovered a life behind the picture and an interesting local story.

In the late 60’s a young East Wall girl Mary O’Brien met a boy called Ronnie Byrne. Ronnie was a Sea Scout Leader and told Mary many wonderful stories about his time training with them, so inspired by these stories Mary decided to start a local branch of the Sea Rangers (the female equivalent of Sea Scouts) at Dodder to cater for 11-17 year olds.

Mary developed a love of sailing and went on to become the first female to train on the famous Asgard. There were 6 girls and a skipper – Captain Healy. They sailed from Dun Laoghaire and went first to Wicklow town and the next day over to Cardigan Bay in Wales, from there they sailed through the night along the South East Coast of Ireland back to Cobh. While they were sailing through the night they did four hours on/four hours off and by the end of the trip they had completed their Watch Officer Training.

Mary is not in the newspaper clipping but knows every girl very well; May Kennedy (who now lives in Sydney) and Margie McGuinness were also on The Asgard with her.
Mary O’Brien became Mary Byrne in due course and the couple had four children, but their love of the water remained, they bought a boat and took the kids on the inland waterways of Ireland every Summer when they were small, and when Ronnie and Mary retired they bought a barge and still to this day sail all through Ireland.

The girls in the photograph are from left: Carol Boland from Ringsend, Barbara Ormsby from Drumcondra, Moira Allan from Ringsend, Phil Coates from Ringsend, Josie Greely (Second Mate) from Ringsend, May Kennedy from Ringsend, May Donnelly from Ringsend, Anna O’Brien from East Wall (Mary Byrne’s sister) and Margie McGuinness from Ringsend.

By Joan Mitchell