21 years of service celebrated The visit by President Mary McAleese to Mote Park this week celebrated 21 years of guiding activity in Roscommon town. The Roscommon branch was founded in 1986 by a group of women from the wider Roscommon town area and since then it has provided a very valuable service to this area. Today more than 40 girls from Roscommon town are members of one of the most active girl guides club in the country. Eight ladybirds (girls aged 5-7), eighteen brownies (girls aged 6 ½-11) and twelve guides (girls aged 10 ½ – 15) compose the membership of Roscommon Girl Guides. The club also boasts three young leaders. There are also several adult leaders of each group. The Irish Girl Guides mission is to enable girls and young women to develop to their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the war. Guiding helps girls in this respect to become responsible and active citizens. Through the organisation they see women in leadership roles and they take on leadership roles within the organisation themselves. Camping, arts, orienteering, environment programmes, understanding the importance of the global community, exploring the outdoors, and working with the marginalised are some of the activities pursued by Roscommon Girl Guides branch, which benefits from the close proximity of the girl guide centre to Mote Park. Mote Park is a wonderfully useful amenity for the guides. The group meets weekly throughout the school year. Events are generally synchronised with those of other guide groups from around the country and numerous clubs frequently come together for camps and other activities. Last weekend almost 100 guides from the West and Midlands came together for a camping project. Éilish Feeley is President of the Roscommon branch of the Irish Girl Guides association. Ms. Feeley has been a member of the branch since 2001. Her daughter Aisling is a member of the branch. Speaking to Roscommon People after the 21 st birthday celebration this week she described the association as ‘a fantastic organisation’ and invited local girls and their parents to come along with the guides. ‘We have some vacancies in the guides and ladybird units so we invite girls to come along and join,’ said Ms. Feeley. She also expressed a hope that parents would consider joining too. ‘We’re constantly looking for new members to assist as leaders,’ she said. The Guides have been very close to Vera’s heart Mrs. Vera Clancy and Mrs. Mary Scott joined President Mary McAleese in leading the birthday celebrations of the Roscommon branch of the Irish Girl Guides Association. Mrs. Clancy and Mrs. Scott were two of the women who founded the Roscommon branch of the national organisation in 1986. Both women were present in Mote Park last Tuesday. Speaking afterwards to Roscommon People Vera Clancy explained the events that led to the founding of the branch 21 years ago and spoke warmly of the evolution of the club since its inception in the late 1980s. Vera Clancy lives on the Racecourse Road in Roscommon. Mary Scott is also a well-known resident in Roscommon town. Her daughter Ruth Scott is the celebrated 2FM disc jockey. ‘I suppose the idea of establishing a branch of the girl guides first came to us shortly before 1986. I for one saw the girl guides as an outlet for the children of the town who were not interested in sport. My own daughter Catherine was an example: she wasn’t interested in sport. ‘Mary Larkin and Irene McGrath were two of the women who were involved in establishing the branch at that time. The branch was lucky that some very good people joined at that point: Mary Scott came from Elphin and she put a lot of effort into it. Judy Pierce from Longford was an experienced member of the Irish Girl Guides Association and she provided invaluable support and assistance. ‘The proportion of leaders to children was a difficulty at the time. The girl guides association requires that there is one leader for every seven children so that ensured that we had a waiting list longer than that of the current government for a long time! ‘The branch developed quickly, thankfully, and it’s an excellent organisation today,’ said the Leitrim native. Mrs. Clancy mentioned Bernie Jordan as one of the more active members of the Guides in recent years. Ms. Jordan currently lives in Australia. Vera was delighted to meet President McAleese. She described Ms. McAleese as ‘a very nice lady’ and said that she was ‘surprised and pleased to hear that the President had been a girl guide.’ McAleese celebrates with Roscommon Girl Guides President Mary McAleese was in Mote Park last Tuesday afternoon to lead the 21 st birthday celebrations of the Roscommon branch of the Irish Girl Guides. President McAleese, who was a girl guide during her childhood in Belfast, delighted in helping the guides celebrate the branch’s birthday at scenic Mote Park. President McAleese spoke of the effect of the association on Irish nationalism and she also reflected on the important role that the Girl Guides association plays in Irish society. The President mentioned the enjoyment she experienced as a member of the ‘bridgeen’ girl guides and said that she treasured those memories. She also told of the happiness that her own daughters experienced during their times as girl guides. President McAleese said that the invitation that she received from the Roscommon branch of the Girl Guides was the first 21 st birthday invitation that she had received in several years! Later she was invited to a 6 th birthday party by ladybird Róisín Tully from Derrane! ‘The Irish Girl Guides is a wonderful organisation. It plays a very important role in Ireland and in Irish life. One little girl told me earlier that I probably wouldn’t fit into a ladybird uniform today but I recall fondly the times that I had as a ladybird many years ago. I loved those days and I loved seeing my own children enjoying their times as members of the Girl Guides,’ said President McAleese. ‘I think that a big ‘thank you’ is owed to all the people who came together 21 years ago and founded the Roscommon branch of the Irish Girl Guides. They could have stayed at home and watched Coronation Street – soaps were on the go that time you know – but they put themselves out for the community. Today this is the bounty of their dedication and the dedication of all those who followed them. ‘One of the great strengths of the girl guides is the quality of its leaders. Irish parents can relax in the knowledge that the people to whom they entrust their children are dependable: the leaders of the Irish Guides across the country are rock solid,’ she said. ‘The Irish Girl Guides association contributes tremendously to Irish life. It firstly is a source of enjoyment for its members. More than that it builds the characters of the girls. This helps them to be strong for themselves and to be strong for Ireland and that is very important,’ said President McAleese.