The Oakleaf Adventure Insignia

I grew up with the Army.

I was christened in the garrison church of the now closed Mullingar barracks, and I first learned to cycle a bike by pedaling around Pearse Square in the Curragh Camp.

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Of course, there were times four-year-old Senan wasn’t allowed cycle around the square. Image: Raco.ie

It’s always been there, my dad was in the army and I joined the Army Reserve (then FCÁ) when I was *ahem* “17”.

My first unit was the 6th Field Artillery Regiment, based in Connolly Barracks, Defence Forces Training Centre (the Curragh). My home barracks has been in the Curragh ever since.

The command flash of the DFTC is a gold oak leaf with two acorns, on a red shield.

Why does any of this matter? Because the oak leaf is a symbol of the Curragh, less than a mile and a half from where I sit as I type this.

It’s all too easy to under-appreciate or dismiss things if they’re right on your doorstep and part of the reason for this blog is to show that you don’t have to travel to the far corners of the world to find adventure.

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The Curragh. Image: Niall Moore Photography

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to travel to the far corners of the world to find adventure; and if you’ve a trip or expedition you want to invite me on feel free! But the point is you don’t have to. Explore where you come from. Appreciate where you come from. And if you can, take a little bit of it with you.

Hence the oak leaf.

And yes, I thought “Oakleaf Adventure” sounded kinda cool.

As for the mountain, it began in Africa…

I can’t remember if I first thought of the blog on Kilimanjaro, but the Kili trip has definitely informed the idea of the blog ever since. In my original concept for the Oakleaf Adventure insignia, the mountain was a silhouette of Kilimanjaro.

It was replaced by the current peak for reasons of symmetry and aesthetics, but there’s still echoes of Kilimanjaro there:

The motto “mlima mrefu sana” is a line from The Kilimanjaro Song that translates as “[it’s a] very high mountain”. It’s coming up on six years now and I still get the song stuck in my head. I love that line though, it’s a metaphor for adventure itself. It’s a very high mountain – go and climb it. It’s a very big world – go and see it!

Finally, the colours.

Again, Kilimanjaro.

It’s a beautiful day on the mountain, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, and I’m going downhill. Things couldn’t be better. The group has spread out along the track and I’m on my own, off in my own little world.

Behind me I hear “Mister Dolan?”

I turn around and there’s two men standing behind me; both misters Dolan themselves. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.

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Daniel and David Dolan, 2010. Image: David Dolan

They were David and Daniel Dolan, of The Explorers Club.

Founded in New York in 1904 the club promotes “the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences.”

I know this because of the conversation we had, but also because I looked it up when I got home. Of course I did, who wouldn’t?!

When I found members included Neil Armstrong, Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; I decided that the blue, white, and red of the Explorers Club flag, would be the colours of Oakleaf Adventure as well.

When it comes to adventure, I can’t think of better company to aspire to.

I’d like to thank the fantastically talented Laura Jane, for taking my jumble of ideas and merging them into an actual cohesive whole.

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