Military Wiki
Irish Guards
Irish Guards cap badge.jpg
Irish Guards Cap Badge
Active 1 April 1900 – Present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Foot Guards
Role 1st Battalion - Light Mechanized Infantry
Size One battalion
Part of Guards Division - Overall
1st Battalion - 11th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters South East
Garrison/HQ RHQ — London
1st Battalion — Light Infantry Aldershot
Nickname(s) The Micks"
"Bob's Own
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 HM The Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
HRH The Duke of Cambridge KG KT
Tactical Recognition Flash GuardsTRF.svg
Tartan Saffron (pipes)
Plume St. Patrick's blue
Right side of Bearskin cap
Abbreviation IG

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

Along with the Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish regiments remaining in the British Army.[1][2][3] The Irish Guards recruit in Northern Ireland[4] and the Irish neighbourhoods of major British cities.[5] 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,[6] however people from that country do enlist in the regiment.[7] Nowadays they recruit from all around the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations and recently, the regiment has also seen several "non-traditional" recruits, notably Christopher Muzvuru of Zimbabwe 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,[citation needed] 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 the Irish Guards.[8]

The Irish guards have fought in every major conflict since their creation[citation needed] and are well known for their fighting spirit and professionalism.

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.


Irish Guardsman in The First World War at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge 1917

The Irish Guards regiment was formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irishmen who fought in the Second Boer War for the British Empire.[9][10]

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 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. During the entire war, the Irish Guards lost over 2,300 officers and men, including John Kipling, son of Rudyard Kipling. The regiment won 406 medals including four Victoria Crosses.

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

Irish Guards Recce Platoon operating a Scimitar Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle (light tank) in the Iraq War 2003

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. Because of the national and political sensitivities[citation needed] they were 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.[11][12]

More recently, the Irish Guards were involved in the Balkans Conflicts, Iraq War, Afghanistan and provided security for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Irish Guards led the British advance as the infantry spearhead of 7th Armoured Brigade in to Basra and was the first into the city on 6 April and reported to of hours before the Parachute Regiment.[13]

In 2013 they will be deployed to Afghanistan and are also deploying to Bosnia as part of the European Union's stabilisation programme.[14]

Under the Army 2020 reforms the battalion moves from London District to the 11th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters South East as a result the battalion will move from Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London to Aldershot. The regiment swaps roles with the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards as a Light Mechanized Infantry Battalion.


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 St. Patrick's blue plume on the right side of the bearskin. The colours of the tactical recognition flash, blue, red and blue, stand for "The water we crossed, the blood we shed, the sky we fought under.[citation needed]

A plume of St. Patrick's blue[15] was selected because blue is the colour of the mantle and sash of the Order of St. Patrick, an order of chivalry[16] founded by George III of the United Kingdom for the Kingdom of Ireland in February 1783[17] from which the regiment also draws its cap star and motto.[18] 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.

Irish Guards Pipers at Trooping the Colour

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

Prince William Wearing an Irish Guards Tunic and Forage Cap at his wedding to Kate Middleton

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.

Prince William wore an Irish Guards tunic in his marriage to Kate Middleton.


Below is the structure of the regiment along with its affiliated band.


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" 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 practicing drill on Catterick parade square

Recruits to the Guards Division go through a thirty-week gruelling training programme at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) and is one of the hardest basic training courses in the world and produces some of the best soldiers in the world. 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.[19]


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.[20]

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.[21] As of the end of 2012 Conmael will be retired and replaced with a new wolfhound called Domhnall.[22]

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.[23]

St. Patrick's Day is the traditional regimental celebration.[24] Fresh shamrock is presented to the members of the regiment, no matter where it is stationed.[25]

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 HRH The Princess Royal. On the regiment's 50th anniversary in 1950, King George VI made the presentation in person.

In 1989, Queen Elizabeth was unable to make the journey to Belize, where the battalion was stationed, and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg substituted for her.

In 2012, The Duchess of Cambridge made the presentation at Aldershot, as her first solo military engagement.[26]

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

Battle honours

The Regimental Colour of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, displaying some of the regiment's battle honours.

Victoria Cross recipients

Notable members

Regimental Colonels

The Duke of Cambridge at Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Parade, June 2013

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.

The Irish Guards colonels have been:

Regimental Lieutenant Colonels

Regimental Lieutenant Colonels have included:

Commanding Officers

Commanding Officers have included (since 2001):[45]

  • 2001–2003: Lt Col James R. H. Stopford
  • 2003–2006: Lt Col Charlie Peter Huntley Knaggs
  • 2006–2008: Lt Col Michael G. C. O'Dwyer
  • 2008–2010: Lt Col Benjamin C. Farrell
  • 2010–2012: Lt Col Christopher Ghika
  • 2012–2014: Lt Col Edward T. Boanas
  • 2014–2017: Lt Col I. Alexander J. Turner
  • 2017–2019: Lt Col Jonathan A. E. Palmer
  • 2019–Present Lt Col Robert P. Money

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Scots Guards
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Welsh Guards


See also


  1. - Infantry Regiments (listing Irish Guards and Royal Irish Regiment)
  2. Irish Times - The fighting Irish - 31 July 2010
  3. Irish Independent - Kevin Myers: However we view war, let's wish our lads a safe return - 7 October 2010
  4. Ministry of Defence website
  5. Ministry of Defence website
  6. Restrictions on recruiting for other States.
  7. "Lure of combat draws Irish men and women to British army". The Irish Times. 6 September 2008. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. "Subscription required to view" 
  8. Biography of Grand Duke Jean, Luxembourg government website
  9. Bartlett, Thomas; Jeffery, Keith (1997). A Military History of Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 380. ISBN 0-521-62989-6. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  10. Irish Guards Regimental website "103 Years of the Irish Guards"
  11. Hansard Debates 27 October 1981 vol 10 cc721-4
  12. Time "Britain: Once More, Terror in the Streets" Nov. 09, 1981
  15. Taylor, Bryn (2006). "A brief history of the regiment". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  16. Penny cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volumes 13. C. Knight. 1839. p. 246. 
  17. Statutes and ordinances of the most illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Dublin 1831, pages 6-13
  18. Irish Guards website
  20. Irish Wolfhound Club, "Regimental Mascots-The Irish Guards"
  21. Irish Wolfhound Society
  24. Irish Guards website - St Patrick's day
  25. Irish Guards website
  27. "Europe's Last VC — Guardsman Edward Charlton", After the Battle (magazine) No. 49, 1985. Contains additional memoirs of the surviving Irish Guards officers and men and German officers which correct the original citation.
  28. "No. 28533". 22 September 1911. p. 6950. 
  29. World War 1 through a lens Archived 6 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine. by EE O'Donnell SJ, The Irish Catholic, 7 August 2014.
  30. "No. 49156". 1 November 1982. p. 14267. 
  31. "Lord Moyola". The Daily Telegraph. London. 20 May 2002. 
  32. "Le Grand-Duc Jean - Cour Grand-Ducale de Luxembourg - Famille grand-ducale". 
  33. Sojourn in Silesia: 1940–1945: Arthur Charles Evans CBE, Catherine Aldous, Pat McNeill: 9781898030829: Books. ASIN 1898030820. 
  34. "Obituary - Sir John Gorman". The Daily Telegraph. 28 May 2014. Template:Cbignore
  35. "No. 29070". 16 February 1915. p. 1565. 
  36. "Patrick Leigh Fermor (obituary)". London. 10 June 2011. Template:Cbignore
  37. "Nigel 'Nosher' Morgan". 21 January 2019. Template:Cbignore
  38. Kipling, Rudyard (1923). The Irish Guards in the Great War. Macmillan.
  39. Ó hEithir, Breandán, An Chaint sa tSráidbhaile. Comhar Teoranta, 1991, p. 164. ISBN 978-0-631-23580-4
  40. "Vandeleur, Joe". 
  41. "Vandeleur, Giles Alexander Meysey". 
  42. "The Irish Guards - A Brief History, 1980 to The Present Day". 
  43. "No. 56020". 7 November 2000. p. 12480. 
  44. "Prince William becomes Colonel of the Irish Guards". 10 February 2011. Template:Cbignore
  45. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named


  • The Long, Long Trail - Irish Guards
  • Irish
  • Verney, Peter (1970). The Micks: The Story of the Irish Guards. Peter Davis. ISBN 0-432-18650-6. 
  • Johnstone, Thomas (1992). Orange and Green and Khaki: The Story of the Irish Regiments in the Great War, 1914-18. Dublin: Gill and MacMillen. ISBN 978-0-7171-1994-3. 
  • Harris, R. G. (1988). The Irish Regiments: A Pictorial History, 1683-1987. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Nutshell. ISBN 1-871876-00-1. 
  • Harris, Henry (1968). The Irish Regiments in the First World War. Cork: Mercier Press. 
  • Murphy, David (2007). Irish Regiments in the World Wars. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-015-4. 
  • Kipling, Rudyard (1923). The Irish Guards in the Great War. London. 

External links

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