Sunday, 27 November 2016

We'll be carrying out 84,000 Good Turns this week!

Incredible, but true! 

IGG members will complete 84,000 Good Turns this week! WOW!!!

National Good Turn Week got off to a rousing start with over 1,100 girls and Leaders singing their hearts out today with a fab rendition of a #GoodTurns song at the IGG panto at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Thanks to Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon, IGGNITE Camp Chief Jenny Gannon and 70 enthusiastic Senior Branchers for leading everyone with these words:

Do a Good Turn daily,
Pin your smile on bravely.
Keep your Promise truly
And have fun in IGG!

Wear your uniform neatly,
Live the Law completely,
Do a Good Turn daily,
And a Ladybird/Brownie/Girl Guide/Senior Branch/Leader be!

We were delighted that Newstalk presenter Sarah McInerney, a former Girl Guide and Senior Brancher in Barna, Co Galway, was able to join us for launch photos outside the Gaiety Theatre. She said she would be joining in National Good Turn Week by doing Good Turns and encouraged the wider
community to join in too.

“National Good Turn Week will be positive for individuals, families and communities,” she said. “By the end of the week all the Good Turns will have had a ripple effect, reaching people across the country.”

Girls and Leaders of all ages will be offering a helping hand to their families, friends, neighbours, school teachers, IGG Leaders ... everyone, in

That isn’t to say that IGG members don’t do Good Turns every day, anyway … Of course they do! That’s a promise we make when we join the organisation at whatever age. But this week we’re all going to go an extra bit further in helping out at home, at school, at work.

Girls who usually load the dishwasher each day will offer to do another household chore as well, like the vacuuming or ironing. Girls who feed their pet dog each day might (if they’re old enough) bring the dog for a walk (and clean up after it)! And so on …

Don’t forget to share your Good Turns with us on social media using the hashtag #GoodTurns!

~ Fiona Murdoch, 
IGG Communications Officer

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

'Nothing could surpass our trip to Sangam'

Mary Lee, Jemma Lee, Grace Grouden and Brenda Grouden attended Sangam World Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations at the end of October. It was Mary, Grace and Brenda’s first time to visit Sangam. For Jemma, it was her third visit, having worked there in 2008-2009 and attended the Young Women’s World Forum there in 2011.  

Thanks to Mary Lee for writing the following post about their recent trip: 

Our trip to Sangam was certainly a trip of a lifetime; nothing could surpass it. To visit a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ World Centre was to be an exciting adventure all on its own but, when we got there, it went way beyond our expectations, as we were taken out of Sangam and brought to explore real life India. 

Each of our days in Sangam was filled, not only with the Guiding programme but with trips to local areas where we got to witness first-hand what life is like in India - the culture, the poverty, as well as the wealth, visiting temples, receiving blessings, eating Indian food with their many and varied spices, travelling on a rickshaw and being part of the traffic system, with its seemingly non-existent rules or order.

We were in awe of how the families live - some in shanty towns, which looked like camps, and others in two or three storey houses where many generations of a family could live.

The roads in India are very dusty and the air is very hot and humid. Traders worked in stalls or make shift sheds, selling their wares - anything from tyres to cooked food, clothes and souvenirs. Most shops were decorated brightly with flower garlands.

We witnessed the slow pace of the Indian people, the beautiful clothes they wore and their friendliness towards us. We visited huge vegetable markets, with a huge array of fresh vegetables and fruit, an area called Bangle Alley, which exclusively sold bangles, bright and beautiful and so many to choose from. Visiting the Sari Shop had to be seen to be believed: it was amazing with so many beautiful and varied colours to choose from. 

Back in Sangam, when we all dressed up in our saris and punjabi suits, it was a wondrous  sight to see!

We visited some community projects in the local area and saw the amazing work that is being done there. We visited a Muslim girls’ orphanage. This was the highlight of our experiences. We played games and sang songs with the girls, all aged between 5 years and 17 years. We did art and crafts and generally had lots of fun, with many photos being taken.  We learned a great deal about their lives and realised that these girls are the lucky ones as they will be educated and trained in many and varied life skills.

Inside Sangam we experienced many ceremonies, each one unique in its own way, including  opening ceremony, birthday celebration, International Night and  closing ceremony. We received many Indian blessings. We were encouraged to challenge ourselves and to get out of our comfort zones in many different ways. 

One of the ways was by doing the Sangam Challenge.  We were very proud to successfully complete the required number of challenges and to receive our special badge of achievement. Jemma and Brenda surpassed themselves by climbing the Sangam Water Tower (while Mary and Grace took photos from far below)!

We learned skills such as Warli art, Indian embroidery, garland-making, yoga, Bollywood dancing and much more. We experienced a typical Maharastrian dinner, while using our right hand only to eat with and tasted the local sweets.

Sangam means ‘coming together’ and that is exactly what we did - meeting Guiders from different countries and working together using the Patrol system.

The staff and volunteers in Sangam are amazing people with extraordinary organisational skills. It was wonderful to meet Catherine O’Connor, IGG member turned Sangam staff, and to have her join us to represent Ireland on our International Night.

Sangam should be very proud of themselves, capable of looking after the needs of so many guests while managing to keep a very full programme running smoothly. We packed so much into our week in Sangam, that it did not seem possible.

Thanks to everyone in Sangam and in IGG for supporting and encouraging us to take this trip.

Truly this was the most amazing and unforgettable experience of our lives.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

‘Being unique is a lot more fun than being like everyone else’

My favourite part of the Trail Blazer badge was the life skills section.

Through this section I learned how to deal with peer pressure. I mainly did this through the Free Being Me badge. This programme helped me to learn that everyone doesn’t have a perfect image. Everyone is different and has their own unique body. 

Through Free Being Me I learned that everyone is beautiful in their own way. No one should feel pressured into wearing make-up.

Free Being Me taught me that everyone has their own flaws and blemishes that shouldn’t be hidden away.

Peer pressure, I feel, is everywhere but Free Being Me taught me that being unique is a lot more fun than being like everyone else.

~ Andrea Cotter of Ardilaun Girl Guides, Macroom, delivered this speech at the National Guide Awards in Croke Park

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

‘Much of what I have learned in Guiding will be useful in my future’

After many years in Guides and with much encouragement from my leaders, Lorraine O'Connor and Trish Mulvihill, I had the honour of receiving my Trail Blazer Award in Croke Park on 22 October 2016 along with four other fellow Guides from my unit (St Dominick’s, Listowel).

Faye Mulvihill,
St Dominick's Guides,
The day began with my journey to Dublin from Kerry; it was a very early start but well worth the effort. The Croke Park Conference Centre looked so well. I felt really proud of the fact that I was a Guide and had earned the right to get my award.

The gold theme was very evident in the room - from the decorations on the tables to the gold goodie bags we were given. I was so nervous of getting up in front of everyone and was glad I was in the last group to go up. I thought it was a lovely idea how each Guide got their own moment of fame with a personal message from our Unit Leaders.

A group of female reenactors depicting the women from the1916 Rising gave a very interesting display on the important role of women in the Rising and a female soldier, Lt Jennifer Larkin, told us of her experiences with the Irish Army.

Her advice to us was always to have a plan B just in case your first plan doesn't work out; as we have been taught in Guides – ‘Be Prepared’!

Faye with her fellow Guides, Fiona, Annya, Tori and Mary Kate
pictured at the National Guide Awards ceremony in Croke Park
with their Leaders, Lorraine O'Connor and Trish Mulvihill,
IGG President Maureen Dillon, Chief Commissioner Helen 
Concannon and Guide Branch Chair Carol O'Brady
The Award consisted of completing a variety of challenges, helping organise Guide meetings, helping out with community projects and earning badges. Some of my favourite times in Guiding were helping out with the Brownie Unit and, at times, Guides and Brownies worked together with our local Tidy Towns group. I really enjoyed this group activity and got great satisfaction when our town won a big award this year.

Our Leaders organised a lot of different skills, tasks and challenges for our Unit over the years and on reflection these really helped with my confidence and Patrol Leader skills.

I am sure that much of what I have learned in Guiding will be useful in my future and I will always have happy memories of my Guiding years.

~ Faye Mulvihill, St Dominick’s Guides, Listowel, Co Kerry 

‘It seems so surreal to have achieved the Trail Blazer Award!’

When I got my letter to say I would be attending the National Guide Awards in Croke Park on 22 October 2016, I was over the moon. There were 68 girls receiving awards.

The ceremony started with “Flames not Flowers”, which was a tribute to the women who were involved in the 1916 Easter Rising. This was an entertaining act, full of colour and life.

After this performance Lt. Jennifer Larkin of the Army Equitation School presented 21 national flags to Irish Girl Guides and spoke about how to care for the national flag. She also talked about how the Defence Forces work as a team, much like how myself and other Guides have done to achieve their Trail Blazer Awards.

When they started presenting people with their awards, each girl had a few lines said about how she had worked towards this award. President of IGG, Maureen Dillion, presented me with my Trail Blazer pin. To receive my Trail Blazer, I completed activities in areas such as teamwork, outdoor survival, community service and global awareness. I also worked with younger members in IGG as well.

Lauren pictured with IGG President Maureen Dillon,
Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon and
Guide Branch chair Carol O'Brady 
Afterwards we had tea and sandwiches. Croke Park was a spectacular venue; the views of the stadium were amazing. Whenever I was in Ladybirds I heard about older girls in Guides getting their Gold Award. Now that I have actually got the newer equivalent of the Gold Award - the Trail Blazer - it seems so surreal!

When I was five years old, I started Ladybirds. I gained many friends outside of school. Ladybirds helped strengthen my social skills and confidence. I believe that this is very important for people of this age group. I attended outings to places such as Causey Farm and Armagh Theatre to see the panto at Christmas. At the age of seven, I started Brownies which helped me learn core values, such as what you put in is what you get back out.

I attended Bailiú in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 2011. It was an amazing event, which I will have memories from for the rest of my life.

Guides made me more aware of the world around me. I completed my Spruce and Copper Beech Awards. When the Journey Programme was introduced, I completed the Innovator and Trail Blazer.

Ballybay Guides Lauren, Laura and Derbhlá pictured at the
National Guide Awards with their Leaders Sheila Linden
and Paula McQuillan 
In 2012 I went to London. I was the youngest Guide on the trip and we stayed in Pax Lodge, one of the five world centres. For me, this is the best part of being involved in Irish Girl Guides, as I love travelling and meeting people from other cultures.

Guides helped me to develop my leadership skills by attending the regional camp “Camp Connect” in July 2016. Through Guides I went to the fantastic Butler’s Chocolate Factory, which is heaven for a chocolate-lover like me! I also got to visit The Dáil and meet Irish author, Sarah Webb, through Guides.

I recently started making a camp blanket, so I will have it for IGGNITE 2017, which I am really excited about.

I am the only Senior Branch member in the Ballybay Unit but I am content as I have many friends in Guides.

I am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences IGG has given me.

~ Lauren Mooney, Ballybay Girl Guides, Monaghan