Focsle – our Sea Scout den

Evolution of a Sea Scout den

Sea Scouts have operated on our current site on the Pigeon House Road since 1909.

The group’s log book records that in the summer time, the Scouts of Fortune’s 1st Dublin troop camped on the sand dunes alongside the coastguard cottages on the Pigeon House Road from 1909 onwards. The group’s records discuss negotiations with Pembroke Council from 1912 for a site next to the Coastguard station. The minutes of Pembroke Council in 1914 record the following:

The first Sea Scout Den, referred to as a “hut” by members at the time, was raised by the members themselves and their parents. 16ft x 8ft and built in timber, it gave a focal point for the Group.

The Sea Scouts received regular training from the Coastguards from the station next door, which with its boat house, stands to this day.

Early buildings were modest and in an area of minimal development.

From the beginning, the Sea Scouts called the building Focsle, placing a sign over the door to that effect as early as 1915. The name Focsle means the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast or, historically, the forward part of a ship with the sailors’ living quarters.

The first building didn’t last long and around 1915 plans are made for a new timber Scout hut on the Pigeon House Road site. It is to be 20ftx16ft. The forward part is to be a parade room, with a small bunk room containing 6 bunks, three-a-side. Larry Russell supervises the building, which is completed by the members of the troop.

Focsle continued to expand in size. The Sea Scout den wall and the Coastguard boathouse are recognisable to this day. The proximity to the water is striking.

By 1928 a bigger hut had been built, in time for the visit of Baden Powell. To honour his visit, a large flagpole was erected in front of the building.

Baden Powell at Focsle, 1928

This distinctive building, with its three parts and large flagpole, remained on the site for a number of decades and became a symbol of the Group.

The distinctive three part building in the 1960s.
Focsle, with a slip directly out front, can be seen in the foreground of this photo from 1952. The distinctive flagpole area can be seen. From the Norman Ashe aerial photo collection.

In 1982, 1st Port moved back to Pigeon House Road, having been in temporary lodgings on Thorncastle Street for a number of years. Focsle was now a purpose-built Sea Scout Den built to a standard layout for a number of Scout Groups around Dublin by Dublin City Council. This is the building still on the site today.

When the group closed in the early 2000s, Focsle was used by other groups when their Sea Scout dens were being re-built, including 4th Port (Dodder) and 5th Port (Dollymount).


Over the years Focsle has played host to a wide range of visitors. The most notable of these was the visit of Scouting’s founder Robert Baden-Powell in 1915 and 1928.

Baden-Powell (second from left) presents Silver Cross medals for gallantry to 1st Port members that had been involved in a rescue in Dublin Bay . Also included are Lord Powerscourt (second from right) and RG Keatinge (last on right).

1st Port also welcomed Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1968 to celebrate 60 years of the group and to present Chief Scout Awards.

A new era

Following the re-opening, extensive work took place to make Focsle fit for the future. This included a large scale insulation project.

When the Sea Scout Group re-opened in 2016 there was huge work to be done at Focsle. While a functional building, there was work to be done on insulation, heating, accessibility, fire safety, flooring, electrics and storage.

The outside of Focsle allows members engage directly with the environment.

Since then significant improvements have been made, including a full renovation of the galley and the installation of accessible toilet and shower facilities.

Scout volunteers from arising Ireland attend a first aid course at Focsle.

Works remain ongoing in order to meet the needs of an expanding Sea Scout Group.

Focsle, now nestled in a busy port region.
A new generation of young people enjoy the facility