Return of the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts

Dodder Sea scouts of the 1950’s. (Richie Saunders is fourth from top).

Dodder Sea scouts of the 1950’s. (Richie Saunders is fourth from top).

The 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts have formally re-opened due to public demand within the community. They are a member of Scouting Ireland, an organisation of over 500 groups and 50,000 members around Ireland, entirely volunteer led and offer sea scouting to girls and boys from ages 6 – 10.

The 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts, Focsle, which is located beside the old coastguard station house on the Pigeon House Road in Ringsend, has been renovated with the aid of scouters and their families. At Focsle, (which means “living quarters” in nautical language) the plans for the development of a more spacious and comfortable location to facilitate meetings and to display memorabilia of their legacy is underway.

They originally began as a troop under leadership of Richard Fortune, who previously had worked in the mounted bodyguard division for Earl Kitchner during the Boer War in South Africa. When Fortune returned to Dublin he joined the Legion of Frontiersmen in 1901 and his troop held their first meeting on Dame Street in 1908 as the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. Since then, 586 people have joined the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts.

Their bravery has not gone unnoticed, as throughout their history the scouts have received silver medals for gallantry and when the founder of scouting, Robert Baden-Powell, visited Dublin he awarded five members the Silver Cross for life-saving. Those members, who followed Lt Fortune at the beginning of the Great War to join the Royal Navy and Coastguard, who lost their lives, are remembered on a memorial in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Previous members include Edward McGrane, awarded a Silver Cross for rescuing a boy from drowning, who went on to become the vice president of An Óige; and Dick Vekins, who went on to serve as Commissioner for Sea Scouts, who received the Silver Elk for Scouting in Ireland’s honour.

Since re-opening, the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts have hiked to the Larch Hill International Scout Centre and also Cub Scout dinghy sailing.

Although the club is in its early stages and running at full capacity at the moment, they have plans over the next three months to have a number of events, most notably an overnight Cub Scout outing and a Great Beaver Boat Trip.

All photos and videos of past events can be found on their website or Facebook page. Adult members, who have a love for outdoors and wish to develop a community-centred spirit in the local youth, are encouraged to join.

“Sea Scouting aims to build young people’s confidence by allowing them to learn traditional and modern nautical skills,” said Sea Scout leader Steven Cull. For parents, the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts operate under a Code of Good Practice and guidelines which are consistent with the national child protection policy.

If speaking with members of the Rowing Clubs and Yacht Clubs in the local community around Ringsend and Irishtown, it is noticeable how often the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts are mentioned and how important they are for the future of the area as many of these seamen found their sea-legs with the sea scouts and learned many important lessons that have stayed with them throughout their voyages.

By Paul Carton