Scouts say ‘Great Scott’ as Irish Barrister Repeatedly Risks Life in Breathtaking Powerscourt Waterfall Rescues, 1942-44

From the Irish Independent, 4 August 1942:

Hundreds of picnickers watched, in tense excitement, while a Dublin holiday-maker balanced himself for three hours on a ledge 200 feet up the rocky side of the famous Powerscourt waterfall yesterday until he was rescued by a Dublin barrister who was camping in Powerscourt for the weekend.

The man, Charles Kenny, 41 Donnycarney Road, who had cycled to Enniskerry with friends, had endeavoured to climb up the side of the waterfall with a camera.  He reached a position where he could neither go up, nor down, and balanced himself with his back flat against the side of a rock, kicking off his shoes to get a better grip on the ledge with his feet.

The waterfall is about 400 feet high, and it was not until three hours later that ropes of sufficient length were found.  A  number of boy scouts camping in Powerscourt demesne were on the scene, and Mr Percy Scott, the Dublin barrister and a prominent member of the Dublin Boy Scouts’ Association, was lowered from the top of the waterfall.

His breath-taking and perilous descent to the ledge was watched in silent suspense, but he succeeded in reaching Mr Kenny around whom he tied a rope.  The task of haunting the two men to the top was quickly accomplished.  Mr Kenny suffered from slight shock, but was otherwise unharmed.  

Gardai told an Irish Independent representative that the waterfall was regarded as most dangerous for climbing, but two notices at the bottom warning visitors of the danger had repeatedly been destroyed by vandals.”

In August 1942, Mr Scott was awarded the Baden-Powell Bronze Cross, the highest award of the Boy Scouts  Association, only given where the rescuer’s life was in danger. At the award ceremony in Powerscourt House, Viscount Powerscourt, Chief Scout of Eire, said that Mr Scott’s heroism was a tribute not just to the scouts of Eire but the movement all over the world.  It was the first time that this award had ever been made in Ireland

Two years later, on 13 August 1944, Mr Scott, now Honorary Secretary of the Scout Council in Ireland, repeated his earlier heroics at the same spot when he saved the life of two scouts trapped 200 feet up on the waterfall cliff face.  They had found their progress barred by slippery rock and, afraid to move, had been on the rock for some hours.

For this additional heroism, Mr Scott was awarded the Bronze Cross with a bar for gallantry – the highest Baden Powell Scout award for gallantry, and the only person in the world to have been awarded it

Mr Scott, who had been called to the Irish Bar in 1931, had already done some not inconsiderable service in providing digested reports of cases for the Irish Law Times Reports throughout the following decade.

Mr Scott retired as Secretary of the Scout Council in 1965. His retirement present was a radio and record player. A great time for such gifts – hopefully he made good use of them!

Mr Scott died at Harold’s Cross in 1995 at the age of 85. He was laid to rest in Enniskerry. His obituary from the Irish Times may be read here.

Image Credits: Fine Art America (left) and Evening Herald, via Irish Newspaper Archives (right)

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