Irish Scout Merit Medals
The Catholic Scouts of Ireland (C.S.I.) awarded three categories of Merit Medal known as Gold, Silver and Bronze. The medals are not made of these metals. Prionnsa is the Gaelic for Prince although the double n is more Scottish Gaelic than Irish Gaelic.
The gold medal, which was the highest Merit awarded was usually awarded for acts of bravery which would almost always involve the saving of life. From the records I have seen most gold medals were awarded for rescue from drowning.
Silver medals were usually awarded for services to the community. Probably the most well know award of a Silver Merit Medal was to the 10th Belfast Scout Group for their work in Cross-Border and Cross-Community relations and their long involvement and achievement in the Melvin competition.
The Bronze Medal was usually awarded for personal achievement by individual members or associates of the C.S.I. This would include but was not limited to overcoming a severe illness, exceptional effort in fundraising and other circumstances which required effort above and beyond the norm.
The older issues of the bronze medal are thinner and about 10g lighter than the new issue. Older issue on the right of the image.
The design of the first issue of the bronze medal had in raised embossed lettering on the back ‘bronnad ar de barr dea Saotair’ which loosely translates as ‘awarded for good work’ although a more literal translation of ‘bronnad ar’ is ‘bestowed on’ and, as with this medal, the recipient’s name would be added under bronnad ar.
Although the Silver Merit Medal was usually not made of silver it is possible to get medals made from hallmarked silver. This example which has a full set of Irish Hallmarks. The makers mark 'we' is for William Eagan who had his shop on Patrick Street in Cork. The date letter F is for 1991.
The pin-bar for the medal is also hallmarked. On good quality silver all separate pieces should have a hallmark.
Medals were worn suspended from a pin broach, the broach colour would match that of the medal, gold for a gold medal and so on. The medal was suspended on a narrow red and white ribbon, three white and two red, the ribbon measured 17mm across. The medal itself measured 40mm long and was 30mm at the bottom tapering to a width of 21mm at the top.
Medal of Honour and Scroll presented posthumously to the family of Michael Stritch from Kiltimagh County Mayo. He died attempting to save members of the Ruane household from a house fire on May 18th 1944. Eight people died in the fire including three children under 7 years old. Michael Stritch was seen on the roof of the house but re-entered the house in an attempt to rescue others. Michael Stritch was 30 years old and a native of County Cork. He was a Scout Master with the local Scout Troop, his coffin was draped with the flag of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland.
1st of August 1968
19 year old CBSI Scout Paul Short from Castleblayney, County Monaghan was presented with a Bronze Medal of Merit for rescuing two children Anne and Martina Byrne from drowning at Derravaragh Lake County Westmeath. The medal was presented by CBSI Chief Scout C J Murphy. Nine other Scouts who assisted in the rescue were presented with certificates of merit, they were Martin McArdle, P J Carvill, Tom Gormley, Brian McArdle, P J Dowling, E. Keenan, J Hanratty, B Leavey and N. Duffy.
A Kerry born Nun was the first woman to receive a CBSI Bronze Medal of Merit. Rev. Sister Mary Angela of the Irish Sisters of Charity received the medal in recognition of her work in the 50th Dublin Troop at St. Mary’s Hospital, Cappagh, Finglas, one of the first Scout Units to be established in a hospital. The Troop was founded in 1927 but by the 1950s had gone into serious decline Sister Mary Angela revitalised the unit.
For a time during the mid-1980s up to the mid-1990s bars for the medals were popular, similar in design to the top suspension bar on the medal but without the loop for the medal ribbon. The bar was worn on the uniform.
The text of the service star reads Gasoca Cathoilici na h-Eireann Seirbhis which translates as Catholic Scouts of Ireland Service.
The bronze service star was awarded for ten years service.
The silver service star was awarded for twenty years service.
The Gold service star was awarded for 30 years service.
Service Medals and Merit Medal were presented in a box with the C.S.I. cross and Bí Ullamh underneath the cross.
Catholic Scouts of Ireland C.S.I. thanks badge. Found in a variety of sizes, text reads buiochas which translates as thanks. The text is in an old Gaelic script the fifth letter which looks like a C with a line on top it is written in modern Gaelic as CH. This thanks medal measures 25mm across but I have seen smaller and larger of the same design. It was given to supports and friends of the Scouts in appreciation of service rendered or donations given.
The thanks medal was presented with a variety of methods of wearing. The ribbon as with this one was usually awarder to serving Scouters and worn on the uniform on appropriate occasions.
Catholic Boys Scouts of Ireland C.B.S.I. silver award, probably Knight Errant or Venture Scouts. The shield on the ribbon read ‘To Serve’ and the medal was made by Lee Brothers of Dublin. Because the numbers of Knight Errant Scouts were small this would have been a commissioned medal so not many would have been produced.
Thank You or Supporters Pins
This is the earliest type of supporters pin used by CBSI. The square end cross was only used for a short time from 1927, not sure exactly when it changed to round end but commissioners metal cap badges from the early 1930s have round ended crosses. Measures 13mm across. Earlier examples of the square end cross are more crude than the later issue, possible ‘home made’ before the thanks pin became official issue.
Thank You or Supporters Pins Catholic Scouts of Ireland C.S.I. and C.B.S.I. These pins were given as a token of appreciation or to supports of a Scout Group and were worn on civilian clothes not uniform. There were several variations in design and material used and various fixing methods. They vary in size but would usually measure in the region of 15mm to 30mm across.
Sports and Prize Medals
You can get a variety of sports and other prize medals awarded to Irish Scouts. Silver medals are usually the easiest to date as the hallmark will have a date letter.
The date letter on the hallmark is A which is 1941-42. Makers mark J.M. Co is for the Jewellery and Metal Manufacturing Company of Ireland, this company operated in Dublin.