97: Irish Guards Badges

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Irish Guards Badges

The Irish Guards (IG), part of the Guards Division, is a Foot Guards regiment of the British Army.

Along with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish regiments remaining in the British Army.  The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities. 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, however people from that country do enlist in the regiment. Recently, the regiment has also seen several “non-traditional” recruits, notably Zimbabwean Christopher Muzvuru, who qualified as a piper before becoming one of the regiment’s two fatal casualties in Iraq in 2003.

Historically, Irish Guards officers were often drawn from British public schools, particularly those with a Roman Catholic affiliation, such as Ampleforth College, Downside School and Stonyhurst College. This is less common in recent times. In November 1942 Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg joined the British Army as a volunteer in Irish Guards.

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 blue plume on the right side of their bearskins.


Main article: History of the Irish Guards

The Irish Guards regiment was formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irish people who fought in the Second Boer War for the British Empire.

During the First World War, the Irish Guards were 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, 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. During the entire war, the Irish Guards lost over 2300 officers and men killed, including John Kipling, son of Rudyard Kipling. The regiment won 406 medals including four Victoria Crosses.

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. The regiment lost over 700 men killed and was awarded 252 medals including 2 Victoria Crosses.

Since 1945, the regiment served in many areas of conflict as well as being part of the BAOR in Germany. They also served as the garrison of Hong Kong in the 1970s. Because of the national and political sensitivities they did not get assigned to Northern Ireland until the conflict had mostly died down in 1992. However, an 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 Balkan conflict and the Iraq War and Afghanistan.

Uniform, motto, nicknames and mascot


Foot Guards, wearing bearskins, march to the Cenotaph on 12 June 2005 for a service of remembrance for the Combined Irish Regiments Old Comrades Association annual parade. Their uniform buttons are in groups of four, identifying these soldiers as Irish Guards

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 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. Blue was selected because the uniform of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which were still in existence at the time the Irish Guards were formed, was a scarlet tunic and bearskin with a green plume.

In “walking out dress”, the Irish Guards can be identified by the green band on their forage caps. Officers also traditionally carry an blackthorn walking stick. Drummers and flautists, in common with the other Guards regiments, wear a distinctive tunic adorned with winged epaulettes and white lace.

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, but is never buttoned except in severely inclement weather. A white tunic is available for wear in the tropics, in which case the cloak is dispensed with. The pipe major, like the pipe major of the Scots Guards, also holds a warrant as personal piper to Her Majesty, the Queen.


The regiment takes its motto, “Quis Separabit“, or “Who shall separate us?” from the Order of St. Patrick.


The Irish Guards are known affectionately throughout the Army as “the 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.


Mascot Irish Wolfhound

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 Conmael. He made his debut at Trooping the Colour on 13 June 2009.

Traditions and affiliations

St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional regimental celebration. Fresh shamrock is presented to the members of the regiment, no matter where it is stationed. 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. Since the latter’s death, the presentation has been made by the Princess Royal. On the regiment’s 50th anniversary in 1950, King George VI made the presentation in person. In 1989, the Queen Mother was unable to make the journey to Belize, where the battalion was stationed, and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg substituted for her.

The regiment is also associated with HMS Portland, as well as the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Army Cadet Force

There are many Army Cadet Force detachments that are badged as the Irish Guards scattered around the UK, the most recent to be badged being Lisneal Detachment 1st(NI) Battalion Army Cadet Force. Also, after the Mini Micks tournament in Northern Ireland, a competition in which all Irish Guard detachments compete, St. Albans was crowned the colonel’s detachment (winner of competition) again. On the 19th September 2010 St Albans Detachment, 3 Company Beds and Herts ACF, won the Mini Micks Competition which was help at Magilligan CTC NI, for the fourth consecutive year.

Combined Cadet Force

The London Oratory School Combined Cadet Force has been badged to the Irish Guards since 10 November 2010. The school is a Roman Catholic institution under the trusteeship of the Fathers of the London Oratory, Brompton, Knightsbridge and the current Headmaster is David McFadden. It has its origins in the educational activities started by the London Congregation of the Oratory in the 1850s and is renowned for its musical tradition. The CCF, established in the 1960s, underwent a rebadging at its Biennial Inspection and Remembrance Service. The Reviewing Officer was Major General W G Cubitt, CBE, Major General Commanding the Household Division and General Officer Commanding London District who oversaw the rebadging, together with the Regimental Adjutant and staff from Regimental Headquarters, making the London Oratory CCF the only Combined Cadet Force badged to the Irish Guards and one of the few CCFs badged to a Household Division Regiment.

Battle honours

Victoria Cross recipients

Notable members

Colonels of the Regiment

British Army regiments typically feature 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. Her Majesty the Queen is colonel-in-chief of all Guards regiments.

The Irish Guards colonels have been:

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