Thursday, 25 June 2015

IGG helped me become the person I am today

'Giving Girls Confidence' ~  no truer words could be said for me. This time last year I headed up to a Ladybird meeting to become a Leader.  I was so apprehensive, scared and nervous (to name a few emotions), but an old friend and fellow Girl Guide and Ranger, 'the amazing Ms Siobhán', had convinced me to come back into IGGA year on and I am so happy to be back in the swing of IGG, taking up my post as Rainbow and, at the at the moment, Camp Helper.

I have had post natal depression since the birth of my little girl over two years now and, this time last year, leaving the house was a mammoth task for me, I would find any excuse not to go places, be it with my family or friends.  When I did go up town I'd hide behind the buggy, do what I had to do and I'd never go up alone, I would always make sure I had someone with me.  

Once my husband was at home, I would go upstairs a lot and just lie in the bed. If I wasn't doing that I would probably be arguing with myself or my husband over nothing, as most days I would cry for no reason while still trying to be a Mammy to two little ones and do all the Mammy things I should be doing.  Most days I'd hold it together till my husband would come home, then I would just crash: I would hit my wall, some times literally!  I am still being treated for post natal depression and my story has so much more to it than this; I am just giving you a snippet here.  In time I'll write my full story but for now I still find it difficult.

But thanks to IGG and true friends like Siobhán, Stephanie (for giving me the nudge to go for it)  and all my IGG ladies, a year on I now go to a Ladybird meeting every week, which I plan and carry out together with my fellow leaders.  My ladybirds make me smile every week - they are so polite and funny, when we make buns or cookies one Ladybird says to me "I'll give you the tea but not the bun" - love it! 

At the beginning of the year I took part in the Free Being Me training and then for six weeks I went to the local Guide Unit to bring the girls through the course.  I was made feel so welcome by the girls and leaders, some of whom were my leaders back in the days!  I now no longer fear leaving the house. I even walked the St Patrick's Parade - secretly I was bricking it but with the IGG gang all around I was fine. 

Many people think IGG is all about badges and flags and learning off stuff; it's not!  I've gone through the ranks from Brownies all the way to Rangers (now Senior Branch) and now I'm a Leader who knows what she wants in the future.  The Irish Girl Guides, both as a young girl and a woman, has made me and helped me to be the person I am today.

~ Gemma McLoughlin, a Leader with Belleek Ladybirds in Co Mayo, blogs at

Thursday, 11 June 2015

'My voyage on a tall ship was the best experience I've ever had!'

Four members of Irish Girl Guides took part in a tall ships voyage on board The Spirit of the Oystercatcher from Warrenpoint to Dublin from 25th – 29th May. Here Lisa Uhlemann, a Leader with Naas Girl Guides, writes about the experience:

The first day I set off from Naas, Co. Kildare, all the way up to Warrenpoint Harbour at 10am on that Monday morning. It was quite scary, but at the same time exciting, as I had no idea what I had let myself in for and what was needed to be done.

I met Owen and Zach - both the instructors for the week. They showed us the yacht inside and out, the rooms we were going to sleep in (which were very small), the kitchen, the living area, the control panels and the helm. The girls, including myself, either came from Irish Girl Guides or the Catholic Guides of Ireland.

We set sail around 3pm and that was the start of the journey onto the Irish Sea. We went down to Clogherhead, docked and spent the night there on the yacht. The next day we got up, ate breakfast and brought up the anchor and set sail. We did a lot of work; we were taught how to read maps and to also plan out a route for the adventure.

When we docked for that night in Balbriggan, the instructors were very nice to set up a rope swing and we all one-by-one swung on the rope and into the water. Mind you, the water was very cold but refreshing at the same time!

When we woke up on Wednesday morning we got up on deck after breakfast and I taught Zumba as we all wanted to warm up for the day ahead. I am a fully-qualified Zumba instructor. During the day, on the way to Howth, it got very windy and was pouring down with rain and, because the yacht was rocking up and down, most people got very sea-sick. The highlight, though, was that we got to see dolphins and a seal. We were also taught how to tie ropes and use them on the yacht.

On Thursday we started to make our way down towards Killiney Bay. We got off the yacht and walked into the village for supplies as we had run out of a few things. It was nice to stretch the legs; however, they felt like jelly and I was swaying from side to side like I was still on the yacht … not fun!

We found out that the next day we would be leading the Riverfest Tall Ships into Dublin Bay… it was quite exciting, don’t you think? The Friday was our last day and we started to move up to Dublin. When we got there, we saw all the other tall ships. All the boats followed us into Dublin Bay. After we docked into Dublin, we got off the boat and headed off home.

It was the best experience I’ve had and, if there was another opportunity to do it again, I would. I enjoyed every bit of it J

All I will say is that, if there is something you want to do, just give it a go! Never leave it and think that in the future you could have done it. Do it for yourself!

~ Lisa Uhlemann, Naas Girl Guides Leader