Our group history is a work in progress. We will add items as our project to chronicle our history progresses. Any effort to chart the group’s past must navigate through a mire of unreliable, though tempting, accounts of the group’s early years!

A wider history of Sea Scouting is available on the history page on seascouts.ie.

Email us at 1portseascouts@gmail.com if you have any information or memorabilia. 

February 1908: Richard Percival Fortune (born 1876) holds the first Scout meeting in Ireland at his home at 3 Dame Street. Captain Fortune began his career at sea in late 1800s including on the full-rigged ship “Howth”. When South African war broke out, he joined Earl Kitchener’s Scouts – a mounted bodyguard to Kitchener. He returned to work at sea before settling in Dublin in the years before WWI. He was, at this time, also involved in a youth organisation, the Legion of Frontiersmen. The 1901 Census shows him living with his mother, a widow who kept a boarding house at Parkgate Street, with his profession listed as “Mariner”. Fortune’s troop would embrace activities afloat and would evolve into a troop which operated from Ringsend, and from 1912 be called the 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. While it’s not true to say the entity formed in Dame Street is the same as the 1st Port group, this was a time of fluidity, with troops and patrols popping up, moving and closing all the time. In the weeks following the meeting at his home, other Scout patrols popped up across Dublin.

1909: Fortune’s troop, then 1st Dublin Scouts camped in the summertime beside the Coastguard Station on sand dunes on the banks of the River Liffey at the entrance to Dublin Bay (our current site).

1912: Fortune’s troop registers as Sea Scouts, as part of the first registration of Sea Scouts in Ireland. It becomes 1st City of Dublin Troop, Sea Scouts.

1912: The now Sea Scouts started to build a 16ft x 8ft hut adjacent to the Coastguard Station, having obtained a lease on the ground from Pembroke Council and Dublin Corporation for a fee of one shilling a year. The den was built by the boys themselves. Sea Scouts were instructed in seamanship by members of HM Coastguard led by Petty Officer Webber.

12 September 1912: Mr Thomas Holden (1874-1922), victualler, Vernon Avenue, Clontarf presented a boat to the Sea Scouts. It was 22ft long overall, 6ft at the beam and fitted with gear for rowing or sailing.

14 November 1912: The records contain the following:

1st City of Dublin Troop, Sea Scouts
Orders for the week ending 14th September
Monday 9th . HQ open from 7 to 10pm for the purpose of enrolling new Scout sand giving general information.
Wednesday 11th. Instruction in Seamanship. HQ 8pm sharp. Doors closed 8.15, after which no Scout will be admitted.
Thursday 12th. Enrolment of Scouts, 8 to 10pm
Saturday 14th. Outdoor Scouting in the bay. Practise in boat managment etc. “

1912: John P Griffith, Chief Engineer at Dublin Port, had begun the project in 1900 of reconstructing of North Wall quays to provide deep-water berths for the cross-channel steamers. By 1912 the Port of Dublin was no longer a tidal port. More on the history of Dublin Port in this period.

1913: The Sea Scout troop travels to Birmingham to a Scout Rally. They win second place for seamanship and first place in first aid. The troop is awarded a compass by Baden Powell’s brother, Warrington Baden Powell.

1 August 1913: Group’s second boat presented by Mr JH Dudgeon (Vice Commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club).

31 January 1914: Hon. Secretary of the Sea Scout subcommittee notes “The 1st Troop, Ringsend, announces that they have adopted the title Wood-Latimer’s Own“. JT Wood-Latimer, who lived at 32 Gardiner Street, was an early benefactor of Sea Scouting. He occupied the position of Chair of Port of Dublin Sea Scout Local Association and presented a rose bowl trophy for use at the annual Sea Scout rowing regatta. Wood-Latimer was a prominent donor to Dublin’s hospitals and was founding Chair of the Management Committee of the Dublin Skin, Cancer and Urinary Hospital on Hume Street (source: A Century of Service, The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital). He was also a Life Governor of the Fever Hospital at Cork Street (source: Annual report of the House of Recovery and Fever Hospital, Cork Street, Dublin and Beneavin Convalescent Home, Glasnevin (incorporated 1904) for the year ended March 31st 1908).

5 January 1915: A group of Sea Scouts led by Lt Fortune, and including Jack Robertson, left for Belfast to join the Royal Navy and HM Coastguard. 1st Port boys and men would see service in a number of theatres of the Great War, some of whom did not return. Some of their names are incribed on a memorial at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


They include:

  • Private Fred Burrows – Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Late boatman 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. Killed in action, November 13th, 1916. [Source: UK Scout Association list of WWI casualties – Other sources reference an F Burrows of Armagh of the 9th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers]
  • Trooper Philip de Ruyter – South Irish Horse. Late Patrol Leader 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. Died of wounds, December 13th, 1917. [Source: UK Scout Association list of WWI casualties]
  • Bernard Ferries – Carpenters’ Crew, HMS Vanguard. Late Assistant Scoutmaster 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. Killed by explosion. Likely 9 July 1917 when the ship was lost at Scapa Flow after a series of magazine explosions. 843 men perished. Son of Ellen Ferris, of 28, Cambridge Avenue, Pigeon House Road, Dublin, and the late William Ferris. [Source: UK Scout Association list of WWI casualties]
  • Seaman Henry Mills (noted elsewhere as Boy 1st Class) – Late Boatman 1st Port of Dublin Sea Scouts. Killed on HMS Indefatigable at the Battle of Jutland. 

Although not recorded on the memorial the elder brother of Henry Mills was also Killed in Action and is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Williams Mills was also a member of the Dublin Sea Scouts. William Ewart Mills was a Company Serjeant Major with the 7th Battalion The Border Regiment, he was 30 years old when he died on the 16/05/1917.

The London Gazette of 23 March 1915 shows Fortune was granted a temporary service commission as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 16 March 1915. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant in March 1916 while in command of ML580, the highest numbered of the World War I motor launches, a 37 tonne vessel with a crew of 8. During World War I, he served as part of the Royal Navy Motor Boat Reserve, aboard HMS Thalia, a Juno-class wooden screw corvette used as a base ship from 1915 and in command of various motor launches in the period directly after the war. Fortune’s Royal Naval Volunteer service card shows he was demobilised from 31 December 1919, having been earlier had orders cancelled and leave granted to sit for examination as a merchant Master. His service record notes Fortune as “Scout Master, in charge of Sea Scouts of Spec. Serv Squad.”

Spring 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, and places a sign over the door saying “Focsle“.

1915: The group becomes “1st Port of Dublin (Ringsend)”, when the Port of Dublin Sea Scout Local Association is formed. 

Easter week 1916: Beresford Webb in Scouting Achievements records that over 20 attempts were made to rob, burn or wreck the den on Pigeon House Road. The accuracy of this is dubious, but there a number of records which state that on one occasion a group of 9 Sea Scouts were lined up against the wall and threatened that they would be shot. It is likely the boys were held while others attempted to rob and burn the Coastguard Station next door. The boys were released in time to help put out the fire.

1917: Jimmie O’ Connor was Skipper of the 1st Port troop.

Spring 1917: After the closing of the 5th Port troop, which had been based at Clontarf, its boat is given the 1st Port. It is known as the “long boat”. The boat was called the “Viking” and had been presented to 5th Port in 1912.

1918: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition under Captain Gill. The Fry Cup was presented to Sea Scouting by Major General Sir William Fry KCVO CB, who served Major-General-in-Charge of Administration in Ireland from the end of WWI until his retirement in 1919. The trophy is still competed for today.

1918: John Finn, who worked at the Irish Shipping Federation and later the National Army, briefly became Skipper.

1919: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition under John Finn

1919: The 1st Port troop became well known for fundraising for the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat. Captain Gill and the troop are invited to take a trip with civic dignitaries onboard the new motor lifeboat, travelling from Kingstown to O’ Connell Bridge.

1919: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition 

1920: Group first wears Scout scarves after a direction from National HQ in preparation for the 1st World Scout Jamboree. The group is also directed to swap their “slacks” for the regulation shorts worn by other troops. The group chooses a dark blue colour for its scarf.

1920: 32 Scouts from Ireland attend the first World Scout Jamboree at Olympia. They are led by 1st Port’s Skipper, Captain Gill from Sandymount (later skipper of the B&I steamer the “Blackrock” and then Commodore of the whole B&I fleet of steamers – he would also become Commissioner for Sea Scouts). They won the best Sea Scout display and the Great Britain Scout rowing championship. The course for the rowing was from Westminster Bridge to the Scout training centre, the Northampton.

Each boy attending had a matching kit bag, and the 1st Port boys were also issued with new jumpers with the troop’s name stiched under the Sea Scout lettering on the chest as well. They also received a swimming costume with a lifebuoy and crossed oars embroidered on it. This would become the 1st Port logo which is still in use today.

1920: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition 

1921: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition 

1922: Tommy Brannock becomes Skipper.

Summer 1926: Troop camp is at Loch Lomond, Scotland. En route to Loch Lomond the troop stayed in disused train station which had been prepared for them by the local Girl Guides.

Summer 1927: Troop camp is at Moor Park, Renfrew, Scotland.

1928: Founder of Scouting Baden Powell visits Dublin. He inspects the Sea Scouts at Ringsend, who have now built a larger Scout Hut, called “Focsle” after the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast, or the forward part of a ship with the sailors’ living quarters. Baden Powell presents the Silver Cross for life-saving to 5 boys from the troop. The records show that since since 1909, 586 boys have joined the troop at one time or other.

1928: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition under Skipper T. Brannock. 

1928: The group’s log records that a group of raiders heap straw dusted with petrol around the sleeping quarters and set it on fire. It notes that one Scout happened to wake up and notice, sounding the alarm and then putting the fire out.

Summer 1928: Troop camp is at Top House Farm, Birkenhead.

October 1928: A Rover Crew (for boys over 18) is formed at 1st Port.

1929: 25 members of 1st Port are among the 50 Irish Scouts that attend the World Scout Jamboree at Arrowe Park in England.

1929: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition under Skipper T. Brannock. 

1930: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition under Skipper T. Brannock. 

Summer 1930: Troop camp is at Castletown, Isle of Man.

Summer 1931: Troop camp is at Arrocher, Scotland.

1931: In “Sea Scout Canoeing in Ireland” Dick Vekins notes:

Scout canoeing really started in Ireland in 1931. Forerunners were the 1st Port Sea Scout Troop, Ringsend, under their Scoutmaster, Mr. T. Brannick.

Canoes of no particular class or type were built by the boys. At the astronomical cost of £2.l0.0 for a single and £3.I0.0 for a double. They were designed by the boys themselves — mostly on the trial and error principle, and to everyone’s amazement, except the scouts, managed to float and actually moved through the water in the required direction. Success went to our heads and, believe it or not, a four-seater was built, but was not very popular as it proved very heavy and hard to manoeuvre.
Our next venture was fitting sails on the doubles and of course, lee-boards — while not a great success, plenty of sailing took place and provided lots of fun and enjoyment.

The canoe fleet had now increased considerably and storage space was hard to find. So we designed and built an underground Canoedome. We dug down 6 feet into the ground and erected a structure 9 foot high large enough to hold about 30 canoes.

1932: The Silver Cross is awarded to Sea Scout W Quigley. While sleeping at 1st Port he heard the cries of a child who had fallen into the water. He rushed out and dived into the water, dragging the unconsious child ashore. Her performed CPR and the girl made a full recovery. 

He would go on to become skipper at 4th Port (Dodder) and give great service to the development of Sea Scouting on the Dodder. 

1930s: Dick Vekins joins 1st Port as a boy. 

He would go on to offer extraordinary service to 5th Port Sea Scouts (Dollymount) from the 1960s until his passing in 1998. He would recieve Scouting in Ireland’s honour, the Silver Elk, and also serve as the Commissioner for Sea Scouts.

1935: In “Sea Scout Canoeing in Ireland” Dick Vekins notes:

Our first canoe regatta was held in 1935 at Ringsend and about 20 canoes from Dollymount (Clontarf 2nd Port) Dun Laoghaire (6th Port) and Ringsend. This event was a hundred day wonder in the district, as canoes were rather frowned by the seafaring community. Needless to say all the canoes were canvas covered – anything that could be procured very cheap All sorts of old tarpaulin, sails, etc,were used and as the weight factor was never considered, some of these canoes were mighty heavy.

19 January 1946: Edward McGrane rescues a boy from drowning in the River Liffey. He is awarded the Silver Cross for gallantry. He would go on later in life to become Vice President of an Óige.

1946: In “Sea Scout Canoeing in Ireland” Dick Vekins notes:

The year 1946 saw Scout Canoeing again on the move, as those interested had re-appeared on the scene and two—seater canoes of more refined lines were built. A double hulled sailing canoe was designed and built by the Sea Scouts at Ringsend.
I suppose, now it could be called a mini-catamaran canoe. It went exceptionally well and was very popular with the boys.

Touring trips started once more, but, as transport was a problem, most of it was done at sea—round trips. A favourite weekend run was, from the H.Q. on the Pigeon House Road, out through tho lights at the river mouth and over to Bellingham Harbour — camp the night there and return next day, many a hard battle was fought against wind, tide and the clock, as we made our way back up the river.

1948: Troop summer camp to Heswall, Cheshire

1959: In local history, the RNLI lifeboat at Poolbeg, the Helen Blake (one of a number of lifeboats given this name) is stood down. Built in 1938 by Groves and Guttridge, the Harbour-class lifeboat launched 13 times and saved 5 lives. The increased coverage offered by motor lifeboats at Howth and Dun Laoghaire led to the Poolbeg lifeboat being taken out of service.

1963: Troop wins Fry Cup senior seamanship competition and Lord Mayor’s Cup for the long distance skiff race

1965: Troop wins Lord Mayor’s Cup for the long distance skiff race

1966: Troop wins Lord Mayor’s Cup for the long distance skiff race

1967: Troop wins Lord Mayor’s Cup for the long distance skiff race

1968: Troop wins Lord Mayor’s Cup for the long distance skiff race

1969: Death of Seamus Reader. Mr Reader had been Group Scout Leader at 1st Port since 1962 and lived in the Coastguard Cottages at 71 Pigeon House Road. A Scottish-born Irish republican, he had been active in the planning of the Easter Rising as an officer in the Glasgow Division of the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s Scottish Brigade. A member of Fianna Eireann from 1911, he continued to be involved in republican activities into the 1920s, organising shipments of arms to Ireland via Liverpool, including at the express request of Countess Markievicz. At the time of the Truce he was OC the IRB’s Scottish Brigade. Before joining the Fianna Eireann, he had been a member of the 7th Glasgow and 56th Glasgow groups of the “Baden Powell Scouts”, becoming a Patrol Leader in the latter. His witness statements to the Bureau of Military History can be read here WS 1767, WS 993 and WS 627.

1972: 60 years of Sea Scouting is celebrated at 1st Port. 3 Chief Scout awards are presented. Taoiseach Jack Lynch visits the group, arriving afloat and being brought ashore by the Sea Scouts. Sea Scout Commissioner Dr Eoghan Lavelle was also in attendance.

1974: Troop wins the Conlon Memorial Trophy for the under 13 skiff race at the annual rowing regatta under Assistant Sea Scout Leader P. Murphy.

1982: To mark the 70th anniversary of Sea Scouting in Ireland, a Jubilee trophy for the under 14 skiff race at the annual rowing regatta is presented by 1st Port. 1st Port wins the trophy the first time it is competed for. It also wins the Conlon Memorial Trophy for the under 13 skiff race at the annual rowing regatta under Assistant Sea Scout Leader T. Morrison 

November 1982: Having spent 13 years in temporary lodgings, the group moves back to its site next to the Coastguard station on Pigeon House Road. The new building is opened by Sea Scout Commissioner Dick Vekins, Minister for Education Gerard Brady TD, Ruairí Quinn TD and Sean Moore TD, the veteran local politician who would lose his seat in Dáil Éireann later that month.

Late 1990s/early 2000s: 1st Port closes due to a lack of volunteer adults. 

1 January 2004: Scouting Ireland SAI and Scouting Ireland (CSI) merge to form Scouting Ireland, a non-denominational movement of young people.

November 2014: A group of adults get together to start the process of re-opening 1st Port, with huge support from the then Commissioner for Sea Scouts, Stephen Taylor. Significant demand is identified in the local area.

2015: The 20th anniversary Sea Scouting Master Mariner competition takes place at Focsle and 1st Port becomes part of the organising team for this individual seamanship event which connects young people in Sea Scouting with professional mariners.

April 2016: 1st Port Sea Scouts formally re-opens Beaver and Cub Scout sections, having trained a group of local adults as Scouters over the previous year. Girls and boys from age 6 upwards are accepted. It is the first time that the group accepts Beaver Scouts and female members.

November 2016: A Sea Scout troop for girls and boys aged 11 or more re-opens. It is called ‘Fortune Troop’ after 1st Port’s founder and the founder of Scouting in Ireland, Captain R.P. Fortune.

2022: A fleet of kayaks is obtained from various sources, most notably the National Lottery. The group has a long tradition of kayaking, having built many of its own kayaks from timber from the 1930s. This modern fleet of kayaks would reinvigorate this tradition.

2023: 1st Port obtains two sailing boats from the government’s Sports Capital Equipment Programme.