In the Spirit of Adventure

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In The Spirit of Adventure by Clare Brophy

In 2009, Veritas publications published a book on the history of CGI. The book provides a discussion on the varied history of the Association and is filled with fascinating images providing a cultural and social history of Guiding from the early days in the 1920's to the present.

"It is more than just a straightforward telling of the Guides' story since founded in 1928, it is also a history of women in Ireland during the 20th and 21st Centuries"

- Ireland's Own, October 2009

You can purchase your copy now From Veritas and The National Office €14.95


Editorial Review

The Catholic Guides of Ireland came late on the scene compared to similar organisations in Ireland and further afield. It was not until 1928 that it was considered necessary to form an organisation that would offer girls the fun, adventure and skills with a Catholic ethos that were long enjoyed by the Scouts. The organisation was set up under the auspices of Cumann na nGaedhael and the Catholic Church in tandem with the Catholic Boy Scouts and with aims to do with discipline, training, responsibility and so on that would seem strange today.

Brophy's book is essentially a celebration of the movement, but alongside the details of who did what and what happened when she does have a stab at addressing wider issues vis- -vis the guides' place in social developments, their relationship with the Catholic hierarchy and what the movement tells us about the role of women in Irish society. Most complex and delicate were the negotiations to allow CGI to participate in the international movement, since the non-Catholic Guides felt that one nondenominational association should suffice. The book is illustrated with photographs of Guides down the decades, all with the same generous margins as the text.

- BOOKS IRELAND, October 2009

In the Spirit of Adventure, A History of the Catholic Guides of Ireland, has been brought out by Clare Brophy.
It is more than just a straightforward telling of the Guides' story since founded in 1928, it is also a history of women in Ireland during the 20th and 21st Centuries.

The book moves through the formative years of the 1930s when the organisation spread throughout the 32 counties, despite a sometimes fractious relationship with the Catholic Church. Then on to the war years when the Girl Guides, through participation in activities not usually open to them, grew in confidence, perhaps sowing the seeds for the women's liberation movement some decades later.

The book then takes us through the 1950s, '60s and '70s and on to the present day, charting the seismic shifts in society and noting how the Guides continued to play an important role in providing a social forum for girls and young women.

The Guides have shown a willingness to change and adapt as necessary, ensuring they still have a relevant role to play in modern Ireland.

The book is liberally illustrated with interesting photos from down the years and it will surely hold a fascination for the generations of Irish girls who have been involved in Guiding.

- Ireland's Own, October 2009

Robert Baden Powell founded the Boy Scouts in 1908. Following representations from sisters of the scouts, Agnes Baden Powell, Robert's sister, set up the Girl Guides in 1910. Similarly, after Frs Ernest and Tom Farrell, with others, established the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland in 1926, moves to set up the Irish Catholic Girl Guides began soon afterwards.

The first few years of the Irish Catholic Girl Guide movement were dogged by controversy. A majority of the initial leadership, including Margaret Loftus and Bridget Ward, wished to have substantial control of the movement. The Farrell brothers and others were determined that it would be a branch of Catholic Action. This meant, in effect, that the local bishop, through appointed chaplains, would supervise the activities of the Girl Guides.

Within a few years the differences between the leaders had been worked through and the movement spread rapidly throughout the whole of Ireland and was established on a diocesan basis. Clare Brophy provides a comprehensive account of the aims, rules, constitution and educational activities of the Guides.

She reminds the reader that from the outset the Guides were involved in hiking, weekend and annual camps, pilgrimages to Knock, Lourdes and Rome and in attending international Catholic Youth Rallies in Europe.


In this lavishly illustrated book she also records the role of the Guides in important national events such as the Eucharistic Congress of 1932 and the Papal visit of 1979 and that during the ''Emergency'' they joined Red Cross units and were actively involved with the Dublin Diocesan Catholic Social Service Conference in helping to alleviate hardship and poverty.

As Irish society became less conservative so did the Guides with regard to their uniform and the range and direction of their activities. The author notes the lessening influence of the Catholic Church on the Guides and highlights complaints that priests were no longer as active in the Guide movement as they had been.

In the early 1980s the Baden Powell Scouts and the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland invited girls to join their organisations. These developments did not help recruitment to the Guides. However, the Guides, belonging to the two religious denominations, survived and retained their individuality and independence.

Strongly committed to ecumenism and working for justice and peace, the Guides were determined to win international recognition by achieving membership of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The author describes the tortuous and lengthy negotiations to that end. In the event they were successful, though they failed to have international recognition extend to their Guide Groups in Northern Ireland, as they belonged to a different national jurisdiction.

The author lists the main reasons why membership of the organisation has declined significantly, particularly in recent years. However, apart from indicating that in 1940 there were 1,500 Guides in companies in 22 parishes in the archdiocese of Dublin, she does not provide any statistics on or estimates of the organisation's membership at any period of its history.

I had the honour of acting as chaplain to Guide companies across Dublin and was enriched by the experience. I salute the Group leaders, past and present, for their excellent work for girls and I congratulate Clare Brophy on her well-researched account of the Irish Catholic Girl Guides.

- J Anthony Gaughan, The Irish Catholic, November 2009