It is seldom that we would designate this page to mark a birthday, but there are exceptions to all rules.
Last Sunday marked the 80th birthday of the remarkable Scoutmaster Pat Bradley who has devoted so much of his life to the world of scouting. Whilst Scouting Ireland changed the title of Scoutmaster to Scout Leader many years ago, Pat Bradley still retains the honorary title which makes him one of a kind.
So the 37th Cork Troop (Togher) is quite unique as it has both a Scout Master and Scout Leader.
Affectionally known as ‘The Brad’ to most people both inside and out of Scouting, he began his scouting journey in 1950 when he joined the 4th Cork Troop (Ss. Peter & Paul’s). It will be of interest to readers that it was the late well-known photographer/journalist Ted McCarthy who brought Pat along to join the scouts. Ted lived on Southern Road and Pat lived quite nearby at Marble Hall Park.
Pat’s first summer camp was in Kells, Co. Kerry in 1951 where it rained for most of the 14 days.
Conditions were poor and miserable, to say the least, and Pat’s family came to visit the camp on the middle Sunday. His mother Kit on seeing the conditions wanted to put her young 13-year-old son, who had never been away from home before, into the car. The young strapping lad refused to go and so continued on with his scouting trail.
His first appointment in leadership came in 1957 when he was appointed assistant Scoutmaster of the 4th Cork but his big break came in September 1960 when he was appointed to start and lead the new troop to be known as the 37th Cork. This post he has held ever since which makes him the second longest-serving leader of the same troop in Irish Scouting only to be outdone by the late J.K. Hurley, his original leader in the 4th Cork.
As part of the development and expansion of Scouting in Cork in the early 1970’s, the 37th Cork were asked by the late Commissioner Walter McGrath to move from the middle parish and set up Scouting in Togher.
On St. Patrick’s day 1973 a new charter was issued at a special Mass and ceremony at the Church of the Way of the Cross and the Scout Troop and Macaoimh/Cub Scout never looked back. It was presented by the newly appointed commissioner Ger Dowling after Walter McGrath’s 21 years in office.
The Scout troop under Pat Bradley went on to National Prominence in 1974 when they won the Cork Diocesan Shield and went on to win the ‘Melvin’ All-Ireland Scoutcraft competition. This the troop were to repeat in 1975, 76 and ’77 making it a four in a row, never to have been equalled since.
Another remarkable story was that a second troop was formed in Togher in 1976, the 60 th Cork due to swelling numbers and they went on to win the All-Ireland in 1979.
Pat Bradley has always said that the summer camp is the highlight of the Scouting year and it is quite remarkable that he has only missed one summer camp over all the years since that first camp in Kells, Co. Kerry in 1951. Last summer was no exception either with the scout troop camping in the Isle of Man. It was in the Isle of Man that the troop went on their first summer camp in 1961 and tend to go back there every five or six years.
As a result, they have made quite a number of friends over the years and still keep in touch. Just three months ago two great friends of the troop Calvan and Betty Quale from Ramsey came to visit Cork and needless to say they were very well hosted and looked after including a visit to Fota House and Midleton Jameson Distillery.
Two main speakers at the luncheon John Dennehy former chairman of the group for twenty years along with Maurice Lapthorne, Chairman of the Cork Fellowship Scout Group.
John Dennehy referred to Pat Bradley as a thorough gentleman, kind and considerate to all and this received a spontaneous applause. He spoke of how he became involved as a parent while the group were still in the middle parish and how his five sons all came up through the ranks of the 37th Cork.
Pat he said has put many scouts through his hands and went on to say ‘ I have met many of these former scouts down through the years through the community council, they all speak so highly of him and how he helped them in their career path.
He is one of kind and may he have good health for many years to come’ Maurice Lapthorne in speaking mentioned that he had fond memories of Pat when he joined scouting as a young raw recruit. Now after all the years they were together working with the Fellowship group which is sometimes referred to in and out of scouting as the ‘Dad’s Army’ of Scouting.
In another side of Pat Bradley’s life, rugby also played and important part in the early years. An accomplished player he captained Old Christians and went on to gain a Munster Jersey. Over many years Pat is always glued to the television when there is any rugby game on.
So it was not surprising at the luncheon held in his honour, apart from a card signed by all present that there were a pair of tickets for him to attend a six nations game at the Aviva Stadium.