THE Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has performed the official turning of the sod for the new den being built by the 1st Mayo Scouts CLG at Lannagh Road in Castlebar.
Building contractor Kieran McTigue will move onto the site, directly opposite Mayo Peace Park, shortly to begin construction on the development and it is expected to be ready for opening this later year.
The project received €300,000 in Leader funding which is administered by Minister Ring's department.
Speaking at the ceremony today, the minister said it is a vote of confidence in the future of scouting in Mayo at a time when the organisation has been having its difficulties at national level.
He praised everybody associated with 1st Mayo Scouting CLG, adding the boys and girls involved, as well as their leaders and parents, can look forward to a bright and exciting future.
Steve Lowe, group leader, said the main objective of Scouting Ireland is to encourage the social, physical, intellectual, character, emotional and spiritial development of young people so that they can achieve their full potential and, as responsible citizens, improve society.
He stated: “For the past 25 years many previous voluntary leaders of the 1st Mayo Scouts have been trying to achieve the magnificent goal of a new den.
“Here we now stand at this very auspicious event knowing that their efforts were not in vain.
“The new den will enable us to reduce our waiting list to zero and increase membership from 100 to 300 potentially over the next five years. To meet this demand we need to increase the number of adult scouters and recruitment will start soon.”
Mr. Lowe confirmed they will be making their new home available to a variety of community groups who are finding it difficult to acquire locations to hold their own meetings.
“While the den is being built, we will be actively seek interested parties who will, along with the scouts, reap the benefits of this new community facility.”
He extended thanks to everybody who had helped them bring their dream to fruition, including Minister Ring, the elected representives of Castlebar Municipal District, Peter Hynes, chief executive, Mayo County Council, and Gerry O'Neill and Norita Clesham of South West Mayo Development Company
Other speakers included Councillor Blackie Gavn, cathaoirleach, Mayo County Council, Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, and Councillor Al McDonnell, chairman of the Local Community Development Committee of Mayo County Council.