Brownies getting ready for a big 100th birthday bash
GREYSTONES Brownies will be among 3,000 girls from all over the country to take part in a massive centenary celebration in Dublin Zoo on Saturday, April 12.
The local girls have good reason to celebrate as Greystones Brownies is one of the oldest Brownie packs in the country.
Brownies is the Irish Girl Guides (IGG) branch that caters for girls aged six to 10 years. The first Brownie pack in the country started in Newbridge, Co Kildare, in 1914. It remained open only a few years, however, re-opening again in the 1970s.
The Greystones pack opened not long after Newbridge and has always remained open, making it one of the oldest continuously running units in the country. Its first leaders were warranted in 1920 and the pack was officially registered in 1923.
The Greystones Brownies are among 4,000 Brownies in Ireland who enjoy the opportunity at their weekly meetings to develop their confidence and skills by taking part in a wide range of games, activities and challenges in a fun and non-competitive environment.
Taking as their motto since their foundation 100 years ago, ‘ Lend a Hand', they are encouraged to think of others and to contribute to their local communities.
The Brownies have been preparing for the mega birthday bash by completing various centenary challenges and making banners to display at the zoo as well as badges to swap with other Brownies they meet on the day. They love to celebrate and the party will be very special for Greystones Brownies.
‘It's such a special feel- ing, surreal in a way, to know that we are one of the oldest Brownie packs and to think just how many little girls have gone through Guiding in all that time,’ said Greystones Brownie leader, Angie Wojnar.
Brownie meetings have taken place in Swann Hall, St Patrick's Church, since 2005. Before that the Brownies met in the old parochial hall near the seafront, which was in use since the 1950s. Prior to that again pack meetings took place in the Presbyterian church hall on Trafalgar Road.
Angie said she doesn't know much about the history of the pack but is looking into it and hopes to compile the pack's history into a small book.
‘I have the names of our past Brown Owls back to 1976 and will keep looking,’ she said. ‘I heard there were big party celebrations for the unit’s 50th and 75th birthdays and I know that Brownies planted many trees in Greystones over the years as well as thousands of daffodils!
‘We have a Brownie rug that we dance around every week that has “1916” embroidered on it, so we think the pack may have started as early as 1916, although Irish Girl Guides' National Office records do not concur.
No-one is allowed to stand on the rug and, if anyone does by mistake, as they are skipping around it singing their six song, a huge gasp goes out!’
Angie, who has just completed a FETAC Level 5 Youth Work Certificate, has thoroughly enjoyed her past 16 years as a Brownie Leader.
‘During my time with IGG, I realise I have been empowering myself as well as empowering the girls through our fantas- tic programme. I have learned to have such empathy and understanding of our young people, their needs and how we meet those needs. I now understand the importance of what we do as leaders - how we are positive role models – and that the girls’ development into responsible citizens of their communities is done through fun activities, like games, youth arts projects, holidays and earning badges that prove their achievements.
‘ They learn by doing and, at the same time, they learn the importance of working together as a team to achieve their goal.’
Faith Brock, Chloe Caffrey, Catherine Burchell, Angie Wojnar (Greystones Brownie Leader), Alannah Achill, Chloe Hughes and Ruth Ferns-Kelly.
Greystones Brownies in 1941.