The Environmental Health Officers' Association was founded in September 1949. This of course for the record was then called 'The Health Inspectors Association of Ireland'. Although the association was founded in 1949, it did not emerge as a legal entity by way of incorporation until July 7th 1954.When the association became incorporated, it had embossed on the Presidential medallion the figure of St. Abban, a Wexford saint who had a special interest in the environmental conditions of his age.
In 1954 a new era appeared to be dawning for health inspectors. Increased staff and new developments in training were among some of the changes taking place. The Annual Conferences were held at the Mansion House, Dublin each year. The Association branches were very active, while the officership of the Branch was contested keenly with three or four nominations at least for each post.
In September 1954, a new bi-monthly magazine appeared as the official journal of the association. It was called 'The Hygienist'. It displayed on its cover a crest showing the goddess Hygia with a serpent across her shoulder over the motto - "Is Fearr Cosc na Leigheas". This was subsequently adopted as the official crest of the Association. 'The Hygienist' lasted until 1957 when through lack of advertising support it failed.
The Health Inspectors' Association was the first body in Ireland to react to the call from the World Health Organisation to promote the annual World Health Day. On April 7th 1956 the Association organised a symposium in Dublin on that year's theme - "Mans struggle against disease - carrying insects".
The last of the big Annual Conferences of the Association came in 1961. Most of those involved in the activities of the Association had become engrossed in Union activities.
In 1966, the Health Inspectors revived their publication, this time under the title - "The Shield". Since the loss of the "The Hygienist" in 1957 the only other attempt to provide a communication link between health inspectors was in 1959 when the then secretary of the Association published a quarterly broadsheet called "the Newsletter".
The Annual Conference made a welcome return in 1967. Earlier that year, the members in Cork showed the way by organising a very successful one-day seminar for health inspectors.
However 1968 was memorable for one event above all others - that was the first ever three day summer school jointly organised by the Health Inspectors Association and the Northern Ireland Centre of the Association of Public Health Inspectors. From all over Ireland, North and South of the border travelled by car or bus to the Silverbirches Hotel, Omagh on May, 9th to participate in that historic event. In May 1969, the Association played host to our Northern colleagues when the second Summer School was held in Nenagh.
It was obvious by 1974 that it would not be possible to organise another joint Summer School because of the violence and political climate in the north. Relationships had not changed between the health inspectors north and south but to be approved as delegates by their local authorities would raise political issues at Council level for the Northern Public Health Inspectors. The Association decided to go it alone and invite the officers of the Northern Association as guests to the school.
At the close of 1977, a new look was being taken at "The Shield". Its day had come and it was now to be replaced by "The Environmentalist".
In 1979, the Association celebrated its Silver Jubilee.
November 2004 is the first time in the history of the Association that a woman has held the post of Chairman.
During the third week of June 2006, the Environmental Health Officers' Association hosted and organised in Dublin, the 9th World Congress on Environmental Health.
We attracted a large representation from around the world, from less developed nations as well as the developed. Delegates came from a range of professions: academics, public service officials, and opinion formers. There were meetings of regional groups, world groups, and an open forum. We sought to address the main issues in environmental health in 2006, with internationally recognised keynote speakers. The 2006 World Congress in Dublin had an Irish character.
The future, no doubt, bears even greater challenges as life and times change so rapidly before our eyes.
The task remains to build on the past and embark with enthusiasm on the future adventure that no doubt awaits.
Here’s to another 50 years.