Newbridge girls among 300 to celebrate Ladybirds’ 30th birthday at Dublin Zoo

Ladybirds are the youngest members of Irish Girl Guides

Kim O'Leary

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Kim O'Leary

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content@kildarenow.com

Newbridge girls among 300 to celebrate Ladybirds’ 30th birthday at Dublin Zoo

Newbridge girls were among 300 girls to celebrate Ladybirds’ 30th birthday at Dublin Zoo on Saturday 15 June 2019.

The girls from two units - Newbridge Ladybirds and Lily Ladybirds, Newbridge - were joined by Ladybirds from Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Meath, Louth, Cavan, Offaly and Carlow for the massive birthday bash. A further 300 Ladybirds from Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford travelled to Fota Wildlife Park for a simultaneous celebration.

Ladybirds are the youngest members of Irish Girl Guides aged five to seven.

Ladybirds, who meet each week in their local community to take part in activities, games, songs and crafts, loved the opportunity to meet up with Ladybirds from other counties to celebrate their milestone birthday.

“All the girls had a fabulous day with music, dancing and a big cake at each event,” said Monica McDonnell, Chair of Irish Girl Guides (IGG) Ladybird Branch. “There was a brilliant atmosphere and everyone had a great time. The girls at Dublin Zoo were especially thrilled to be joined by award-winning space communicator Niamh Walsh who told them that their motto of learning to care and share was a vital part to an astronaut’s training.”

While Guides (the branch of IGG for 10-14 year olds) started in Ireland in 1911, Brownies (the branch for 7-10 year olds) started in 1914 and Senior Branch (the branch for 14-30 year olds) in 1919, the Ladybird branch only started 30 years ago when it was decided to introduce Guiding to girls of a younger age.

A pilot Ladybird unit in Ballybrack, Dublin, was such a success that in 1989 Ladybirds was officially launched by then Minister for Education Mary O’Rourke. Within a year there were 33 Ladybird units operating throughout the country. Today there are more than 2,000 Ladybirds in the 26 counties.

“The Ladybird programme encourages girls to care and share, to think of others and to contribute to their local communities,” said Monica, who is Leader of Cúchulainn Ladybirds in Drogheda. “Each girl is encouraged to try her best and learn new skills and is rewarded for doing the best she can.

“The girls can earn badges for all kinds of things, like Road Safety, Healthy Mind, Performing Arts, Environmental Awareness, Voting and STEM. During their time with us, we see the Ladybirds grow in confidence and independence while making new friends and having a lot of fun.”

IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon said: "Irish Girl Guides excels at being relevant and in touch with the needs of each new generation of girls. Thousands of girls have benefited from their involvement as Ladybirds in IGG and have progressed to Brownies (aged 7-10) and Guides (aged 10-14) where they continue to grow in independence, develop essential life-skills and are introduced to the international aspects of the Guiding movement. On behalf of the girls, I thank all the women who have volunteered as Ladybird Leaders over the last 30 years and look forward to the next 30!"

Monica concluded, “The parties wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors - Impression Design and Print, The Galway Bay, Tayto, Fyffes and the staff of Deloitte. All of these have donated to us, which has been a massive help. Also, thanks to Dublin Zoo and Fota for allowing us to celebrate the birthday in their venues. Everyone had a fantastic time!”

Irish Girl Guides welcomes new members from age 5+ and volunteer Leaders from age 18+. No previous experience of Guiding is necessary.

See www.irishgirlguides.ie for more information or tel: 01 6683898.