A History of the Irish Guards
The Irish Guards was formed by order of HM Queen Victoria on 1st April 1900 to commemorate the bravery of Irish Regiments in South Africa. Irish soldiers featured prominently in this campaign as in many others before. Country Tipperary, with one of the lowest population densities in the British Isles, accounted for the highest number of Victoria Cross winners.
The first officers and soldiers of the Irish Guards came from the other Regiments of Foot Guards serving at the time of formation. Forming part of the Guards Mounted Infantry Company, these first Irish Guards officers and soldiers saw immediate service in South Africa against the Boers.
On formation as a Regiment of Foot Guards, the Irish Guards adopted a blue plume to wear on their bearskins. The colour is said to have come through the quick thinking of Lady Settrington, the wife of the Aide-de-Camp to Lord Roberts VC, the first Colonel of the Irish Guards. With green plumes already worn by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and therefore unsuitable, Lady Settrington dipped her husbandâ€™s white Grenadier plume into an ink well to produce a blue plume for the new Irish Regiment. Since then, the Irish Guards have served in the dual role synonymous with the Foot Guards.
The Irish Guards have served with distinction at every opportunity through the two World Wars and in the period since then in Hong Kong, Belize, Aden, Germany, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Six Victoria Crosses have been won by members of the Regiment and a total of 52 Battle and Theatre Honours have been bestowed on the Regiment since its formation.
During the Second World War, the Irish Guards swelled to three Battalions which fought from the early action of the British Expeditionary Force in Europe through Norway, North Africa, Italy and the advance through Europe. One member of the 3rd Battalion Irish Guards who fought during the Second World War was the 23-year-old Captain Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, who liberated his country while serving with the Irish Guards. He was appointed Colonel of the Irish Guards in 1984 and rode on every parade up until 2000. The current Colonel of the Irish Guards is HRH The Duke of Cambridge KG, KT, ADC.Â
The Battle Honojur Hazebrouck. In 1918, the Irish Guards fought in Hazebrouck. They were cut off from all sides by the enemy and were hit by machine guns fired as they advanced. Only on NCO and six men made it through.
From 1947 through to 1969 the 1st Battalion continued to see active service overseas; firstly in Palestine, serving as the last British troops to provide internal security, then in Libya, Egypt in the 1950s and Cyprus in 1958. In addition, detachments of Irish Guardsmen saw active service in Kenya, Malaysia and Aden.
In recent years the Irish Guards have been deployed in support of the full spectrum of operations undertaken by the British Army. In 1999 the 1st Battalion deployed to Kosovo as part of NATO monitoring forces; in 2003 and 2010 the Battalion deployed to Iraq in the armoured infantry and light infantry role and latterly in 2010, 2011 and 2013 the Irish Guards deployed to Afghanistan in the ground-holding role, advisory role and strike operations role. More recently, in 2015, the Irish Guards deployed to Cyprus for 6 months as part of the enduring UN peacekeeping mission on the island. In late 2019 the Battalion deployed to Iraq to support the training of Iraqi armed forces and to South Sudan as part of the United Nations mission in the country.
An Irish Guardsman Live Fire Training in Kenya.
Throughout the global Covid 19 pandemic the 1st Battalion Irish Guards have been at the forefront of supporting the NHS, running testing centres in the south of England and Liverpool and assisting the clearing of lorries from Manston airfield over Christmas 2021.
The Irish Guards are alone amongst the Household Division in having a Regimental Mascot, an Irish Wolfhound. On parade, today is the seventeenth mascot Turlough Mor but known to everyone as Seamus.
As a serving Guardsman, Seamus parades with a Drummer and is inspected before he takes his place at the front of the Regiment when it parades. The red linen cape worn by Seamus was presented by the President of Ireland, His Excellency Mr Michael D. Higgins, during the State Visit held at Windsor Castle in 2014.
The Duchess of Cambridge is pictured on St. Patrickâ€™s Day.