An Óige wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for the help of all the volunteers we have had over the years. Recently (May 15th – 17th), the An Óige volunteers came together at the annual Volunteer Weekend in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ask them a few questions about their experiences as a volunteer.
The questions below were answered by George King, who has been a member of An Óige since 1948!
How did you first get involved with An Óige?
I got involved with An Óige through my brother. He was a member, so I just went along with him. We were into cycling and cycled the whole country together, that was the only way to see it back then. The first hostel I stayed in was the old Glendalough hostel.
Unfortunately, I had to take a break from An Óige because of my job as a journalist. When I retired in ’91, I figured I wanted to do something completely different. I decided to apply for An Óige again and started working as a warden.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the work that you’ve done?
I have helped with quite some work parties. These aren’t actual parties of course, it’s just where volunteers come together and do up the place. A good example of this would be Arthurstown. We put in showers, toilets, tracks, took down the doors, fixed up the kitchen and bedrooms, got rid of all the rubbish in the warden’s house and fixed that up too. We decorated it from top to bottom and I eventually moved in there. This project took about two years.
I then became main warden’s officer, which was a volunteer position. I have helped with many other things as well and helped doing up more places all over the country, such as Mountain Lodge and Glenmalure. I’d usually go there in my free time and get some work done. It brought a lot of people together and it was always great craic. Of course, we also worked very hard and I must say I’ve learnt an awful lot from my time at An Óige.
Is there any advice you could give to potential volunteers?
The only advice I could give is that you’ve got to be very keen. There is no sense in doing half a job. You have to give it your best and go in 100%, otherwise you will just be wasting your time and maybe more importantly, the time of all the other volunteers who are giving it their best. I guess since it’s not about the money and more about the satisfaction of a job well done, it has to be something you love doing.
Interested in volunteering at one of our hostels? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org