The De La Salle Scout Group was founded in 1928 and in 2024 we are ninety six years old. De La Salle is the oldest Group in Waterford and our leaders have been at the foundations of many other Groups in the Waterford Scout County. There are so many stories and so much history behind this group that it would be impossible to tell it all here, so we have put together a brief history to illustrate some of the heritage of the Group.

The 3rd and the 7th De La Salle Scout Troops in 1938

Back Row: Buddy O’Dea, Frank Grogan, Paddy Duffin, Michael Farrell.
4th Row: Michael Farrell, John Sharpe, Bill Murphy, J Doyle, K O’Gorman, Unknown, J Stewart, M Traynor, Chris Murphy, M Douglas, D Kavanagh, P Kelly, P Karney.
3rd Row: M Moloney, P Traynor, Val Doonican, P Kavanagh, B Grant, F King, P Power, M Maher, Tony Butler.
2nd Row: C McGrath, M King, P Cullen, Bro. Bruno, Fr Sheehan, Br. Bernadine, B Barr, Archie Colcough, B Doherty, J Phelan.
Front Row: M O’Brien, M Burke, N Manahan, Dick Power, J Farrell, P Kelly, C Carroll, Clive Power, M Burke, P O’Brien.

Group Leaders 1928-2015

Year Leader
1928 – 1937 Bro. Bernard Foley
1937 – 1943 Bro. Bernard Lennon
1943 – 1949 Bro. Bernard Foley
1949 – 1961 Bro. Edmund Heleen
1961 – 1963 Bro. Stanislaus Madigan
1964 – 1977 Bro. Finbarr O’Keeffe
1978 – 1983 Bro. Cornelius Desmond
1983 – 1994 Bro. Finbarr O’Keeffe
1995 – 1997 Liam Butler
1998 – 2003 John Hennebry
2003 – 2006 David Rogers
2006 – 2010 Owen Riordan
2010 – 2012 Seamus Purcell
2012 – 2015 David Collins
2015 – 2017 Keith Cunningham
2017 – 2020 Elaine Hayes
2020 – Present Pat Murphy

In the beginning…

Within a few months of the founding of C.B.S.I. (Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland) by Tom and Earnest Farrell in Dublin in 1927, Fr. Crotty, a curate in Ballybricken started the 1st Waterford Troop in Hennessy’s Road in Waterford City and named it St. Josephs. St. Josephs later closed and with the help of Fr. Crotty, the 3rd Scout Troop was started at De La Salle’s St. Stephens Street School in the autumn of 1928. Back in 1928 Subs were only two pence and meetings were held in classrooms at the school in Stephens Street. The Troop’s first experience of camping was Whit Weekend in 1930 when twelve members camped at Hungary Hills in Kilmeaden using a tent which they had bought second hand from the army.

The 7th De La Salle, O’Farrell Cup winners 1956. Back: J Riley, A Chester, T Ryan, L Murphy, Unknown, D Dobbyne, J McCabe, B Collins. Front: Bro. Edmund, O Kennedy, B Hearne, M Power, Ted Ryan (Jnr), T Kavanagh, Fr, Mossy Burke.

The 3rd Scout Troop was so successful that a second was established in 1931 (the 7th). In the same year the Unit acquired it’s first Scout Uniform and the 3rd held their first annual camp in Sheridan’s field in Tramore. The two week trip cost £1. The Unit continued to grow during the 30’s. It won the O’Farrell Cup which was a Diocesan Scoutcraft Competition on numerous occasions and 8 more Bell tents were purchased from the army. It was decided at a Group Council meeting on December 15th 1933 that the Group would have the first pipe band attached to a Scout Group in Ireland and on May 15th 1934 the Pipe Band made it’s very first public appearance. For the full story, check out our Pipe Band History page.  By 1942 numbers had grown so large that another Scout Troop called the 13th was founded. The 13th was formed from St. Declan’s school and had all of it’s meetings there for the first few years. Early in 1948 the Unit purchased it’s first ever Marquee for £50.

Chris Lane in the scout uniform of the 1940's

Each year from 1931 until 1955 the scout troops held their two week annual camp at Stradbally, Co. Waterford. Chris Lane who was a scout during the 40s and also a piper in the band has written the following poem which reflects well the spirit and the character of scouting at that time:

Stradbally Memoir

Camping out in Stradbally where the river meets the sea
in Post War time of forty-nine, is an enduring memory.
We were dressed in dark blue uniforms and high, round-brimmed hats
with insignia of “Scouts of Ireland” and badge for making knots.
The event of summer camping was the high point of the year,
and keen ambitious boy scouts held the occasion dear.

The campsite-centre feature was our flag from days of old;
Green, White and Gold flew high above the densely wooded fold.
Twelve bell tents were clustered, near the wide, high marquee
and from the campfire, across the river, could be seen the sparkling sea.
Soon after sunrise in the mornings, the reveille bugle sound
would summon all the sleepy heads to come and gather round.
The glorious Tricolour would then be raised, showing against the sky,
to proclaim us sons of Eireann until the day we die.
In the evenings as the shadows near the bosky river grew,
we would muster for Sundown ceremony, when the rousing bugle blew
and the flag was gently lowered and folded for the night
to await the morrows sunrise, in a new start refreshed and bright.
Each one eagerly looked forward to whatever the plan would be–
a march across the headland or swimming in the sea.

The daily water-fetch from the village was by a working group;
chosen by the senior leaders, from the third and seventh troop.
We hauled a milk churn in a cart up the steep, long, stony hill
and at the village pump plunged the handle until we made the fill.
Then Phelan’s Store was our next call, on the east side of the green,
for a treat of Keiley’s lemonade mixed with ice-cold soft ice cream.
We moved then with the surging load down on the homerun trip
holding the restraining chains and the shaft with crosstree grip.
Upon arrival at the camp site, expecting shouts of glee,
quarter masters shrugged their shoulders, “Now go, and make the tea”.
We would gather at the end of day singing like an angel choir,
the old songs that we knew so well, around the bright campfire.
Derry Kavanagh’s song of Abdul, Percy French would surely bless,
and his brother recited of Shakespeare in the time of Good Queen Bess.

Parading up to Sunday Mass led by the bagpipe band,
we marched through the little village to the church that lay beyond.
At the High Mass solemn service our reverberating bugle call
echoed dramatically like thunder, from the roof and wall-to-wall.
Then a band display and concert on the crowded village green
of our winter-practiced repertoire made a jolly summer scene.
Later at the handball court, competition games were run
to decide who could outplay the rest in a struggle of friendly fun.
But by now a growing sadness crept into each ones’ mind
for the time was approaching quickly when the fun be left behind.
Then came packing of scattered baggage, tidying of the site
and walking to the railway station to get home before that night.
Passing near Lord Beresford’s house, through the private estate,
we were hushed to a quiet whisper and trudged softly to the meadow gate.

The sounds of our piping in memory, echoes wistfully since then,
for that band of scouting comrades, not all met again.
The young faces of my companions do not age or fade
in the memory of an exile whose thoughts are of those days.
Recollections of the times when our world was fresh and fun,
meld to a warm feeling for when adulthood had not yet begun.

By Chris Lane

Strength To Strength

Pioneering in the days when the spars were really long!

The Unit continued to go from strength to strength and became an integral part of the life of hundreds of young people in Waterford. In 1961 the 7th had the honour of being the first troop from the city to represent the diocese in the All Ireland Scout Craft Competition (the Melvin Trophy) at Larch Hill in Dublin. The team came 4th overall, came in at the same position in 1962 and went one better in 1963 by coming 3rd. In 1964 some members of the Unit travelled to Rome. It was a bit of a disaster as they boarded the wrong train in Paris and ended up on the Yugoslavian frontier. They were deported back to Milan a day later.

Robbie Wallace, Eddie O'Sullivan and Johnny Byrne on the right. Eddie and Johnny were both originally from Carrigeen Park in Waterford. The photo was taken by Tom Casey outside the shop at Mahon Bridge on a Venture weekend in the Comeraghs in the late seventies.

In 1966 the very first Macaoimh Gasra (Irish for Cub Pack) was set up in De La Salle. One of the very first leaders, George Kavanagh is still a leader in the pack to this day. A second Macaoimh pack was set up some months later under Liam Butler.  In 1967 our new den in Patrick Street was completed and a store and a small meeting room were later added and that same den has served us well since that time. In 1967 the Unit took part in the camp in Lismore to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of C.B.S.I. As part of the celebrations, De La Salle also held a Scout rally at Faithlegg outside of Waterford City which was attended by 200 people.

The first Macaoimh Pack including Back Row (L to R) Liam Butler, Brendan O'Shea, John Kavanagh, F. Cooney, Maurice Kavanagh and George Kavanagh (still the leader of the 3rd Pack). Also pictured are Paschal Guilfoyle, Ben Furlong, Liam Casey and Frank Grogan.

Growth & Development

Around 1970 Brother Killian of De La Salle College acquired our training site at Faithlegg for us. A hut was bought and erected on the site but the following year, just as things were taking shape, a huge storm took the roof clean off it. Liam Butler then spearheaded the building of a brick hut. Venturing made its first appearance in the Unit in 1973. The group was led by Paul Cunningham and Brendan O’Shea and Tom Casey, current Treasurer and Paschal Guilfoyle, one of the current Scoutleaders were amongst the first Venturers. Venturing has long been the “problem child” of Scouting but De La Salle has always strived to have a successful Venturer Group.

Venturers at a scout show during the 1970s

In November 1976 a major change in Scouting took place when the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore was abolished and the Waterford Region was formed with a Regional Council. Louis Murphy, one of the great characters of De La Salle was the first commissioner. He died only a few months later and was replaced by a another DLS Scoutleader, Paul Cunningham. In 1978 our new Unit hut was opened in Faithlegg to coincide with our Golden Jubilee. The 13th Scout Troop became very successful in Regional Competitions and along with the 3rd they represented the Region at the Melvin Trophy. The Unit has taken part in almost every national competition since then.

Our Training Site and Store at Faithlegg outside of Waterford

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Waterford City and it’s suburbs grew and prospered and many new Scout Units were formed with the aid of Leaders from De La Salle. The annual “Whit Weekend” in June became a very popular Unit affair during the 80’s. It was held at the Unit Training ground in Faithlegg which continued to be developed and a new store was opened there in 1987. In 1984 Mark Roche of the 3rd became the first member of the Unit to be awarded the Chief Scouts Award.

Chief Scout Award Recipients 1984-2012

Mark Roche – 13th – 7/10/1984 Derek Ryan – 3rd – 28/06/1998
Donald Knox – 3rd – 24/10/1985 Paul McSweeney – 3rd – 12/02/2000
Kieran O’Connor – 13th – 19/10/1986 John Cummins – 3rd – 08/11/2003
Gordon Butler – 13th – 19/10/1986 Kate Hayes – 3rd – 1/10/2004
John O’Keeffe – 13th – 19/10/1986 Michael Kavanagh – 7th – 4/3/2005
Derrick Crowley – 13th – 05/05/1990 Maurice Kavanagh – 7th – 17/12/2005
Michael Rowe – 13th – 23/05/1993 Darragh O’Callaghan – 7th – 30/11/2007
Colm Ennis – 13th – 23/05/1993 Cian O’hOgartaigh – 3rd – 22/08/2009
Jamie Farrell – 13th – 23/05/1993 Shona Murray – 7th – 28/10/2010
John Butler – 13th – 28/06/1998 Emily Costello – 7th – 17/04/2011
Mark Casey – 13th – 28/06/1998 Eoin Falconer – 7th – 17/04/2011
John Kinsella – 3rd – 28/06/1998 Mark Duffy – 7th – 09/06/2012
The 13th Waterford team which came second place in the Melvin in Mount Mellary in 1989. Back Row (L to R): Mark Grogan, Aidan Ennis ASL, Kiernan Gildea National Commissioner, Donal Tabb PL, Daniel Byrne, Fr. Boyle Chaplain, Brian Doyle. Front Row: Derrick Crowley, John O'Shea, Bryan Butler and Colm Ennis.

In 1989 the 13th Scout Troop had a “near miss” in the Melvin Trophy when they came second to another Waterford troop – St. Pauls. The Melvin Trophy was the only piece of silverware that had remained elusive to the Group over the years until finally it was bagged by the 3rd in 2000!

Liam Butler, former AUL and Unit Leader from 1995 - 1997

Recent History & Looking Forward

Throughout the 1990’s and into this decade the Unit has continued to grow.  The Scout Troops particularly have embraced the mountains and the outdoors as central to their programme, but most importantly all sections continue with their aim of providing a fun, adventurous and educational outlet for young people.

1997 saw the Unit achieve phenomenal success at a national level when two of our Scout Troops – the 13th and the 3rd came third and fourth respectively in the All Ireland Scoutcraft Competitions. But it was not until 2000 that the unit finally realised its long held dream of winning the Melvin Trophy. Success came to the 3rd De La Salle Scout Troop in Larch Hill in August of 2000.  In 2001 the difficult decision was taken to close the 13th Scout Troop and to concentrate the leadership and youth membership in the remaining two troops – the 3rd and the 7th.

3rd Scout Troop - winners of the Melvin Trophy in 2001

The Unit has always had great support from the De La Salle Order and this has been important to it’s development. On the 1st of January 2004 the Unit became the De La Salle Scout Group in line with national changes to scout structures.

In 2009 and 2013 the 7th De La Salle Scout Troop won the national scoutcraft trophy – the Phoenix Trophy which was held at Mount Mellary in 2009 and Castle Saunderson Scout Centre in 2013. This makes De La Salle the only Group in the country to have had two troops win the national competition after the 3rd won the Melvin Trophy in 2000.

Faithlegg works

Former Group Leader and current Group Leader over see the work in progress.

In 2013, the Group began Phase 1 of the Faithlegg Development Programme with the complete landscaping of the 2 acre camping field at our Faithlegg Scout Centre just outside Waterford City. This marked the exciting new phase of Faithlegg with Phase 2 along side Phase 1 being completed over the following 12 months which includes the complete renovation of the existing Scout Den in Faithlegg, development of the old, dis-used exterior toilet block and site clearing to provide more camping facilities.

The 7th De La Salle Scout Troop winners of the Phoenix Trophy

Overall we have had many members of incredible dedication and spirit who no doubt are proud that after 96 years of Scouting, the Group has maintained high standards in it’s two Beaver Colonies, it’s three Cub Scout Packs, it’s three Scout Troops, the Venture Scout Group, The Rover Crew and the Scout Pipe Band. Here’s looking forward to our centenary celebrations in 4 years hence and hoping that those who will then be logging the history of the Group will feel the same sense of pride and satisfaction that exists today.