Last November on the Halloween Week-end a group of 40 Young Pioneers stayed in Kells, Co. Meath for the annual Pioneer Youth Weekend. The young people came from Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Westmeath, Louth, Kildare, Wexford, Limerick and Meath for a week end of fun and activities.
Arriving on Friday and after a short introduction followed by some food, the group hopped on a bus to The Causey Farm Halloween experience. Located in Girley outside Kells, a well know Pioneer family – the Murtaghs have opened their farm to the public and have themed events for instance at Halloween, Christmas etc. The Halloween evening scared the Crosserlough girls a bit and rumor has it that the ghost of Mary Moore is living in the Old School in Crosserlough now!! There were haunted tours, a wake house and the history of Halloween was explained too. A disco afterwards on the farm followed by a fireworks show finished the evening off with a bang!
As organizers, the National Youth Committee couldn’t have been happier with the group that attended the weekend. Each and every young person there was as excellent ambassador for their local areas. On Saturday morning Addiction Counsellor Nathalie McCaul gave an excellent presentation to the group on the issue of alcohol use and mis-use, confidence building and self esteem. Later in the evening the participants took what they had heard and through a variety of art projects gave their interpretations of the Pioneer Association and life for young people in general.
On the Saturday, the group travelled to Mullaghmeen Forest for an orienteering session climbing to the highest point in Co. Westmeath – that isn't very high at all!! This cleared the groggy heads from the late night before but all agreed that the crisp November air, leafy forest and bright blue sky allowed the group to mix and mingle with new friends and old. The table quiz that evening was very popular and the Wii was let loose as the day came to an end. Night Prayer facilitated by Jason from the Kells Pioneer Centre and was a gentle formal reminder of the purpose of the weekend. Young people express themselves in many many ways and often not as one might expect or even notice. The activities on offer at these weekends offer that space for expression in a myriad of ways.
Mass on Sunday morning was said in the Christian Brothers centre in the town. The excellent Kildalky Children's Choir sang, adding greatly to the occasion. Fr. Houlahan, the Meath Diocesan Spiritual Director celebrated the mass in and enjoyable and relaxed way for the young congregation.
The 2008 Pioneer Youth Weekend finished off with presentations from the Young Pioneers of the National Youth Committee and group discussions about what could be done next. Since the weekend similar events have begun to take shape. The group in Limerick is planning a one day event similar to the Kells Weekend for their friends and communities while the Young Pioneers in Connaught now set their sights to host the next Pioneer Youth Weekend
Thanks goes to all who organized the weekend, Dermot, Martha, Louise, Jason, Edel, Joanne, Peter, Margaret, Bridget, Maria, Catherine, Grace, and Andrew! Most of all, thanks goes to all who attended and participated. Hope to see you all next year!!