Our Centenary year – 2011 was a year to highlight Guiding in Ireland and to celebrate the past 100 years of the development of IGG throughout the country, along with our past achievements, our members and our hopes for the future.
The celebrations began on a snowy Saturday in January with an opening event full of music, singing and dancing. Each Region received their centenary light from the Chief Commissioner and President to shine brightly during the year. The two charities that IGG supported in 2011 – Barnardos and the Global Girls Fund were represented by Fergus Finlay CEO of Barnardos and Kavita Oberoi of the Global Girls Fund and the work that they undertake was highlighted in their speeches. Throughout the year events were organised on a national, Regional and a local basis and in this way almost every member of IGG was involved in some way from the youngest Ladybird to the oldest member of Trefoil Guild. Each member received a special centenary woggle to wear on their neckerchief to highlight the year.
A bed of 100 Centenary roses was planted in the Rose garden of St. Anne’s Park, Dublin on 22nd February also marking World Thinking Day and in December a Centenary rose bush was planted in the grounds of Powerscourt House, Co. Wicklow marking the link between IGG and the Powerscourt family, which was very strong in the early years of IGG’s development. Many Units planted flowers and trees around the country commemorating the centenary, which will be a lasting memento of the centenary and IGG.
Members of IGG featured strongly in parades to mark St. Patrick’s Day throughout the country using the centenary theme to highlight our achievements over the past 100 years. On WAGGGS Day, 10th April, Units focused on the theme “GROW” and as an organisation IGG has continued to grow during 2011.
Saturday May 7th was the big day of the year with over 6,200 of our members gathered together in Thurles for a National Fun Day to celebrate our Centenary. This fun-filled day had something for everyone. The day began with the members’ parade which was a spectacular colourful affair with all Units represented by their Unit Banner. A lot of hard work had been put into making these banners and it was wonderful to see them parading around the pitch in Semple Stadium led by the De La Salle Scout Pipe Band. The day was officially opened by Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD. Other speeches on the day were made by our Chief Commissioner, Emer O’Sullivan and by our VIP guest Mary McPhail, Chief Executive of WAGGGS. Presentations on the day were made to the Gold Award Guides and also our long service Leaders received their 30 year service pins. Overall formalities on the day were kept to a minimum as fun and friendship were the order of the day. Everyone gathered together for our Guinness Book of Records attempt and whilst we might not have managed to break the record for the longest knotted rope chain, we still had a lot of fun trying (and indeed tying!!). Amongst the group activities available on the day were workshops on circus skills, drumming, science, and dance. We also had many, many games on site including every kind of inflatable, an old fashioned helter skelter and carousel, zorbing, milking cows, animal farms and crafts, crafts, and more crafts! The grand finale on the day was a concert by Abbaesque and once again this united all generations of Guiding. They had us singing and dancing and definitely sent us all home on a high. It was a big day for the Irish Girl Guides and one that will definitely stay in our memories for many years to come.
The year continued with 6 Regional camps taking place over the 1st weekend in July and all being visited by the Chief Commissioner and President on a whistle stop tour of the country. The 7th camp took place a week later. The camps enabled many Brownies to spend a night under canvas and Ladybirds to visit – maybe for the first time. Throughout the year Units have taken part in the Centenary Challenge and have also been fundraising for the two Centenary charities. This has been done in a variety of ways from filling the shape of 100 with coins, to participating in mini-marathons, cake sales and sleep-overs.
The closing ceremony for the Centenary was held on Saturday 19th November (19/11). This date was chosen as it represented the year Guiding started in Ireland – 1911. All members of IGG were asked to renew their Promise at the time of 19:11 – again using the symbolism of the year Guiding began. Celebrations then lasted as long as everyone wanted from an hour to 20:11 or through the night and into 20th November (20/11) to remember all IGG has achieved over the past 100 years. Celebrations varied in size from the Unit gathering, to groups of former Leaders to Regional Gang Shows – all with one purpose – to celebrate the centenary and the end of a great year.
Throughout the year, IGG hit the newspaper headlines more than 1,000 times with particular emphasis on centenary activities. Units were very visible in their local communities highlighting what IGG does and the benefits to the girls.
IGG has come a long way since the first Guide company was opened in Harold’s Cross in 1911. The Centenary year has celebrated our achievements and we had much to celebrate. As one century closes, another opens up with lots of new challenges for today’s members as they look to the future and a strong second century of Guiding in Ireland.