Regimental badge of the Irish Guards (IG)
|Active||1 April 1900 – Present|
|Role||1st Battalion – Light Infantry/
|Part of||Guards Division|
|Garrison/HQ||RHQ — London
1st Battalion — Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow
|Motto(s)||"Quis Separabit" (Latin)
"Who Shall Separate Us?"
|March||Quick – St Patrick's Day
Slow – Let Erin Remember
|Mascot(s)||Irish Wolfhound named Domhnall|
|Colonel in Chief||Elizabeth II|
|Prince William, Duke of Cambridge KG KT|
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
|Plume||St. Patrick's blue
Right side of Bearskin cap
The Irish Guards (IG), part of the Guards Division, is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army and, together with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish infantry regiments still remaining in the British Army.
The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities. Although restrictions in the Republic of Ireland's Defence Act make it illegal to induce, procure or persuade enlistment of any citizen of the Republic of Ireland into the military of another state, people from the Republic do enlist in the regiment.
One way to distinguish between the five regiments of Foot Guards is the spacing of the buttons on their tunics. The Irish Guards have buttons arranged in groups of four as they were the fourth Foot Guards regiment to be founded. They also have a prominent St. Patrick's blue plume on the right side of their bearskins.
During the First World War, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards was deployed to France, and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. During 1914 and early 1915, they took part in numerous battles, including Mons, Marne and Ypres. Additional battalions were raised in 1915 and the 2nd Battalion fought at Loos. During 1916, The Irish Guards were involved in the Battle of the Somme where they received severe casualties. In 1917 they participated in the Third Battle of Ypres and Cambrai. They fought up to the final days of the war including attacking the Hindenburg Line.
The regiment's continued existence was threatened briefly when Winston Churchill, who served as Secretary of State for War between 1919 and 1921, sought the elimination of the Irish Guards and Welsh Guards as an economy measure. This proposal, however, did not find favour in government or army circles and was dropped. Between the wars, the regiment was deployed at various times to Turkey, Gibraltar, Egypt and Palestine.
During the Second World War, battalions of the regiment fought in Norway, France, North Africa and Italy and following D-Day in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In November 1942, during the Second World War, Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg joined the British Army as a volunteer in the Irish Guards.
Since 1945, the regiment has served in many areas of conflict as well as being part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany. They also served as the garrison of Hong Kong in the 1970s. The regiment was not assigned to Northern Ireland until the conflict had mostly died down in 1992. However, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb blasted a bus carrying men of the regiment to Chelsea Barracks in October, 1981. Twenty-three soldiers and 16 others were wounded and two passers-by killed.
More recently, The Irish Guards were involved in the Balkans Conflicts, and they led the British advance into Basra in March 2003 at the start of the Iraq War. The Irish Guards have also provided security for the 2012 Olympics in London. In 2013 the Irish Guards were deployed to Afghanistan, and also deployed to Bosnia as part of the European Union's stabilisation programme.
The 1st Battalion Irish Guards is broken down into five separate Companies; three rifle companies, Numbers One, Two and Four Companies, the Support Company (3 Company) and Headquarter Company. The rifle companies use the Warrior tracked armoured vehicle.
Like the other Guards regiments, the "Home Service Dress" of The Irish Guards is a scarlet tunic and bearskin. Buttons are worn in two rows of four, reflecting the regiment's position as the fourth most senior Guards regiment, and the collar is adorned with a shamrock on either side. They also sport a St. Patrick's blue plume on the right side of the bearskin.
A plume of St Patrick's blue was selected because blue is the colour of the mantle and sash of the Order of St. Patrick, an order of chivalry founded by George III of the United Kingdom for the Kingdom of Ireland in February 1783 from which the regiment also draws its cap star and motto.
In "Walking-out Dress", the Irish Guards can be identified by the green band on their forage caps. Officers and senior non-commissioned officers also traditionally carry a blackthorn walking stick.
The Irish Guards like the other Guards regiments wear a khaki beret with the blue/red/blue Household Division backing patch on it. On the beret ranks from Guardsman to Lance Sergeant wear a brass or staybrite cap badge, Sergeants and Colour Sergeants wear a bi-metal cap badge, Warrant Officers wear a silver plate gilt and enamel cap badge and commissioned officers of the regiment wear an embroidered cap badge.
The uniform of The Irish Guards pipers is, like The Scots Guards, a kilt and tunic, yet is also very different. Bagpipers wear saffron kilts rather than tartan, green hose with saffron flashes and heavy black shoes known as brogues with no spats, a rifle green doublet with buttons in fours and a floppy hat known as a caubeen rather than a feather bonnet. The regimental cap star is worn over the piper's right eye and is topped by a blue hackle. A green cloak with four silver buttons is worn over the shoulders and is secured by two green straps that cross over the chest.
The Irish Guards are known affectionately throughout the Army as "the Micks" or "Fighting Micks." An earlier nickname, "Bob's Own", after Field Marshal Lord Roberts has fallen into disuse. The term "Micks", while derogatory if used in civilian life, is tolerated if used within the Army.
Recruits to the Guards Division go through a thirty-week gruelling training programme at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC). The training is two weeks more than the training for the Regular line infantry regiments of the British Army; the extra training, carried out throughout the course, is devoted to drill and ceremonies.
Since 1902, an Irish Wolfhound has been presented as a mascot to the regiment by the members of the Irish Wolfhound Club, who hoped the publicity would increase the breed's popularity with the public. The first mascot was called Brian Boru.
In 1961, the wolfhound was admitted to the select club of "official" Army mascots, entitling him to the services of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, as well as quartering and food at public expense. Originally, the mascot was in the care of a drummer boy, but is now looked after by one of the regiment's drummers and his family. The Irish Guards are the only Guards regiment permitted to have their mascot lead them on parade. During Trooping the Colour, however, the mascot marches only from Wellington Barracks as far as Horse Guards Parade. He then falls out of the formation and does not participate in the trooping itself. The regiment's current wolfhound is named Domhnall. His predecessor, Conmael, made his debut at Trooping the Colour on 13 June 2009. At the end of 2012 Conmael retired and was replaced with the new wolfhound- Domhnall.
Traditions and affiliations
The Irish Guards and other Guards Regiments have a long-standing connection to The Parachute Regiment. Guardsman who have Completed P company are Transferred into the Guards Parachute Platoon who are currently attached to 3 PARA still keeping the tradition of the No 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company who were the original Pathfinder Group of 16th Parachute Brigade now renamed 16th Air Assault Brigade.
Except in wartime, the presentation is traditionally made by a member of the Royal Family. This task was first performed in 1901 by HM Queen Alexandra and later by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. After the latter's death, the presentation was made by HRH The Princess Royal. Starting in 2012, the presentation has been made by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Her decision to skip the ceremony in 2016 to spend time with her children sparked public controversy. 
In September 2015, London-based Irish newspaper The Irish Post revealed that the Irish Guards would field a GAA team in the London GAA Championship. It was a landmark occasion, as the Irish Guards GAA became the first British Army team to gain affiliation to the GAA, who had banned British armed forces from playing their sports from 1897 to 2001 under Rule 21.
- First World War: Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914 and 17, Langemarck 1914, Battle of Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 and 1918, Flers–Courcelette, Morval, Pilckem, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 and 1918, St. Quentin, Lys, Hazebrouck, Albert 1918, Bapaume 1918, Arras 1918, Scarpe 1918, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18
- Second World War:
- Al Basrah 2003, Iraq 2003
Victoria Cross recipients
- Guardsman Edward Colquhoun Charlton, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- LCpl John Kenneally, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards
- ALt Col James Marshall, Irish Guards (attached to the 16th Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers)
- LSgt John Moyney, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- LCpl Michael O'Leary, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards
- Pte Thomas Woodcock, 2nd Battalion, The Irish Guards
- Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
- The Rt Hon Alastair Boyd, 7th Baron Kilmarnock
- Rev. Francis Browne, SJ, MC and Bar
- The Rt Hon James Chichester-Clark DL
- Arthur Dooley
- Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg
- Arthur Charles Evans CBE
- Sir John Gorman
- Lt John Kipling (only son of Rudyard Kipling)
- Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO OBE
- Josef Locke
- Hugh Lofting
- Lt Col The Hon George Henry Morris
- Liam O'Flaherty
- The Rt Hon The Lord O'Neill of the Maine PC
- Brig JOE Vandeleur DSO and Bar
- Lt Col Giles Vandeleur DSO
- Terence Young
British Army regiments typically have an honorary "colonel", often a member of the Royal Family or a prominent retired military officer with connections to the regiment, who functions as a kind of patron or guardian of the regiment's interests in high government circles. HM The Queen is colonel-in-chief of all Guards regiments.
The Irish Guards colonels have been:
- Field Marshal The Rt Hon The Earl Roberts VC KG KP PC GCB OM GCSI GCIE – appointed 17 October 1900.
- Field Marshal The Rt Hon The Earl Kitchener KG KP PC GCB OM GCSI GCIE – appointed 15 November 1914.
- Field Marshal The Rt Hon The Earl of Ypres KP PC GCB OM GCVO KCMG ADC – appointed 6 June 1916.
- Field Marshal The Rt Hon The Earl of Cavan KP GCB GCMG GCVO GBE DL – appointed 23 May 1925.
- Field Marshal The Rt Hon The Earl Alexander of Tunis KG PC GCB OM GCMG CSI DSO MC – appointed 28 August 1946.
- General Sir Basil Eugster KCB KCVO CBE DSO MC – appointed 17 June 1969.
- General HRH Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg KG – appointed 21 August 1984.
- Second lieutenant His Grace The Duke of Abercorn KG – appointed 1 November 2000.
- Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts KCVO OBE – appointed 17 March 2008.
- Major HRH The Duke of Cambridge KG KT – appointed 10 February 2011.
Order of precedence
|Infantry Order of Precedence||Succeeded by
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Subscription required to view
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