At this time of year, all eyes turn to Croke Park for the All-Ireland gaelic games finals, however for Scouting Ireland the destination was further north, as over 1,000 scouts and their leaders traveled to Stormont in Belfast for The Phoenix Challenge 2017, Scouting Ireland’s All-Ireland Campcraft Competition.

North Cork was ably represented by 4 groups who qualified through their North Cork County Shield held in April, which was the largest and most competitive in Cork this year. Fermoy, Kilworth, Mallow and Charleville had their hard work and dedication rewarded with 3 golds and a silver respectively. Mallow were also placed 11th nationally out of 80 patrols. This augurs well for the strength and quality for scouting in these groups and throughout the North Cork region.


This annual four-day event was challenging from the outset with ground conditions hampered by poor weather. A reduction in the area available to the scouts also required everyone to be a bit more creative in their site construction. Along with the long distance travelled, this made the North Cork success event sweeter.

North Cork Scouts and their leaders photographed with Chief Scout of Ireland, Mr. Christy McCann, in front of the Stormont Parliament. The county had huge success at the All-Ireland event with Fermoy, Kilworth and Mallow receiving gold. Mallow placed 11th out of 80 patrols, while Charleville received silver. Congratulations are due to all concerned for the enormous hard work and dedication.

This is only the second time this event has been held in Northern Ireland in over a decade. It was a historic event for the Stormont Estate as well, being the first time in over forty years that anyone had camped on the grounds.

A location usually associated with Gladiatorial political challenges and partisan rivalry, Belfast saw the scouts challenged on everything from the quality of their site build and camping skills to their cooking ability, also on everything from first aid, orienteering, weather forecasting, pioneering and survival skills.

While every patrol was focused on doing their best, the friendly competition always means scouts go home with new friends made throughout the country. Fifteen minutes of fame came for many as the BBC filmed the first aid scenario and aired it on TV and online, an acknowledgement of Scouting Ireland’s role as the largest youth organisation in the 32 counties.

A visit to Belfast couldn’t go without recognizing its maritime heritage, the scouts escaped the mud on site for a few hours when they visited the Titanic Quarter for more challenges. Their first aid skills, weather forecasting ability and engineering projects provided interest and entertainment for the many tourists visiting the Titanic centre.

Mitchelstown Scout Leader Andrew Dineen, was Sub Camp Chief of Eagles Subcamp at The Phoenix Challenge; he’s photographed overseeing the bases at the event with Scout Programme Commissioner Una O’Grady and Mick McGrath from Waterford.


The competition and challenges faced by the groups meant that in everyone’s eyes, all the scouts were winners, however as with all competitions, someone must come out on top. The Phoenix Challenge winners were the 18th/26th Waterford, Ferrybank scouts; the 80th Cork, Little Island, last year’s champions came in 2nd place.

Everyone in North Cork wishes to extend their congratulations to the four local groups who proudly represented the area at this event. They did themselves, their leaders, parents and the wider community proud. For many they scouted throughout the summer, putting in countless hours training.

The new scouting year begins shortly and if anyone wishes to join this adventure, contact your local scout group in Charleville, Mitchelstown, Kildorrery, Kilworth, Fermoy, Rathcormac, Mallow, Doneraile and Kanturk.