Royal Irish Rangers

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Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd & 87th)
Active 1 July 1968-1992
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Line infantry
Size On disbandment, 2 Regular battalions & 1 TA Battalion
Garrison/HQ Depot R IRISH, St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena
Nickname(s) "The Irish Rangers"
Motto Faugh A Ballagh (Clear the Way) (Irish)
March Quick - Killaloe
Slow - Eileen Alannagh
Mascot Irish Wolfhound Brian Boru
Anniversaries Barrosa Day, 5 March; Somme Day, Waterloo Day, Rangers Day 1 July
Engagements Barrosa, Waterloo, Somme, Korea
Colonel in Chief

First: Field Marshal HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster

Last: HRH The Duchess of Gloucester (1989 - until amalgamation)
Honorary Colonel First - Lieutenant General Sir Ian Harris.
Last - Lt-Col. The Rt. Hon. Alan Henry (Brooke), 3rd Viscount Brookeborough, DL
General Sir Roger Wheeler, GCB, CBE. Former CGS; Brigadier MCV McCord MC; The O'Morochoe

The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th) was a regular infantry regiment of the British Army with a relatively short existence, formed in 1968 and later merged with several other Irish regiments in 1992 to form the Royal Irish Regiment.


The Royal Irish Rangers came into being on 1 July 1968 through the amalgamation of the three remaining Irish infantry regiments of the British Army:[1]

The date was initially known as "Vesting Day" (and then "Rangers Day"), emphasising that the traditions of the old regiments were "vested" in the new large regiment.

Soon after creation in December 1968, and as part of a general reduction in the Army, the 3rd Battalion (former Royal Irish Fusiliers) was disbanded.

The three regiments had old and differing traditions (Rifle and Fusilier) and to avoid favouring one above another, the unique designation "Rangers" was adopted. The title had not existed in the British Army since 1922. The title is also used by the US Army, Canadian, Irish Army and Pakistan Rangers.

With the creation of the "Divisions of Infantry", the Royal Irish Rangers became part of the King's Division, along with regiments from the north of England. This continued until 1992 and Options for Change. The Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Rangers amalgamated to form the Royal Irish Regiment.


Accommodating the traditions of the three regiments required compromise:

Ranger uniforms
  • The caubeen was adopted as the headdress for the new Regiment as all the former regiments had worn it
  • The green hackle was formerly worn by the Royal Irish Fusiliers
  • The Castle collar badges had been worn by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
  • The black buttons had been worn by the Royal Ulster Rifles
  • The brown cross belt was a compromise between the brown Sam Browne belts worn by the Fusiliers and the black cross belt worn in the Rifles
  • The Great Irish Warpipes carried by the Royal Ulster Rifles pipers and the Brian Boru Pipes carried by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers pipers were abandoned in favour of the Great Highland Bagpipe, which thus became standardised throughout the British Army.
  • The badges of the three regiments were worn on the kilts of the regimental pipers.


The Rangers served in, inter alia, the following places:

  • Northern Ireland. 1 R IRISH first in 1989 and 2 R IRISH in 1991. This overcame resistance to the Regiment serving in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles although most officers and many NCOs had traditionally completed operational tours with other regiments.
  • BAOR. At amalgamation 1 R IRISH was in Osnabrück and 2 R IRISH in Lemgo.
  • USA. Including a visit in the mid-1970s to Washington, D.C. when one Ranger with a knowledge of military history recalled the last visit in 1812 when Irish ancestors had burned the White House down. (The white house was burned down 24 Aug 1814 during the War of 1812 no Irish Regiments were part of the Battle of Bladensburg however many Irish would have been in the English Regiments present at the battle including the 85th, 4th, 44th 21st and Royal Marines)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina. As part of the first UK deployment and as reinforcements to the Cheshire Regiment.
  • The Falkland Islands. Immediately after the 1982 war; no line infantry regiments fought in the conflict.

Options for change[edit]

Under this reorganisation, the Royal Irish Rangers were amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form the new Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).

Territorial Army[edit]

"The Territorial battalions did likewise to form the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers (North Irish Militia) which also included the sole London Irish Rifles company and the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers. The two TA battalions trained as units until 1993 when following the Options for Change White Paper, they were merged to form the 4/5th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers (Volunteers) or 4/5 RANGERS. In 1998, the Government conducted a Strategic Defence Review which concluded that the Territorial Army needed to be restructured to meet the new defence posture. As part of that plan, 4/5 RANGERS reduced to a small battalion headquarters plus administrative element, two rifle companies, the North Irish Horse squadron, a machine gun platoon and an assault pioneer platoon. The new structure which was effective from 1 July 1999 is now called The Royal Irish Rangers." (Palace Barracks Memorial Garden

The name of the Royal Irish Rangers was maintained through the Territorial Army battalion in Northern Ireland, which nominally exists to augment the Royal Irish Regiment's ORBAT, but can be deployed in support of any regular unit. In 2007, following the disbanding of the Home Service Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Irish Rangers TA were renamed as the new 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.

Roll of honour[edit]

Post 1968[edit]

Victoria Cross (pre-1968 Regiments)[edit]

Recipients of the Victoria Cross:

Victoria Cross medal, ribbon, and bar.

Music of the regiment[edit]

Regimental Quick March[edit]

The Regimental Quick March is Killaloe. It was written around 1887 by an Irish composer, Robert Martin, for the London Musical "Miss Esmeralda". The lyrics relate the story of a French teacher attempting to make himself understood to a difficult Killaloe class. Originally in 2/4 time, it was made well known in military circles by a cousin of the composer - Lt. Charles Martin of the 88th Connaught Rangers (The Devil's Own). He composed new lyrics, in 6/8 time, celebrating his Regiment's fame. No mention is made of the tune in the Regimental history, but there is an explanation that may account for the shout or yell in the military version of Killaloe.
Historically, in the lst. Battalion (Connaught Rangers), formerly the 88th, a favourite march tune was "Brian Boru" played when marching through a town - often after a hot and heavy march. On such occasions, and at a time given by the Sergeant Major, the Band would pause and all ranks would give a "Connaught Yell". The march became popular among the other Irish Regiments and various other sets of lyrics were devised. On parade, soldiers of the Royal Irish Rangers gave a spine-tingling "Ranger Yell"; this continues with the Royal Irish Regiment.

The first known recording of Killaloe was made by Richard Dimbleby when serving as a BBC war correspondent in Northern France shortly before Dunkirk. The "Famous Irish Regiment" Dimbleby reports playing as they march past is not named, but would have been either the Royal Irish Fusiliers or the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Again in 1944, the BBC recorded The 1st. Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Pipes & Drums playing Killaloe, by then adopted unofficially as the march of the 38th (Irish) Brigade, during the approach to Monte Cassino. Killaloe was adopted by The Royal Irish Rangers on its formation and again later by the Royal Irish Regiment on its amalgamation in 1992.[4]

The soldiers had their own words to the tune which would be sung, sotto voce, as they marched:

Regimental Slow March[edit]

Previously the March of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was Eileen Alannah, an Irish ballad.


At the Tercentenary parade celebrated in Osnabrück in 1989, the Irish Rangers were able to parade a combined band from 1 & 2 R IRISH together with the Bugles, Pipers & Drums from both.

Recorded music[edit]

The Band, Bugles, Pipes & Drums have released CDs including Pipes & Drums of Ireland and Heritage Of Ireland


The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
The 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras Infantry)
The Royal Ulster Rifles The 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot
The 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot
The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's) The 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot
The 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot


  1. ^ "The Royal Irish Rangers website". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  2. ^ "R IRISH page on MOD site". Retrieved 2007-08-23. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Regimental Roll of Honour". Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  4. ^ "Ranger website". 1968-07-01. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 

External links[edit]