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The Irish Guards
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The Irish Guards
We're not so old in the Army List
But we're not so young at our trade
For we had the honour at Fontenoy
Of meeting the Guard's Brigade.

From a poem, 'The Irish Guards', by Rudyard Kipling,
whose son was killed in the Irish Guards in 1915.

Irishmen and their descendants have, over the centuries, built up a unique reputation as professional fighting troops. Queen Victoria recognized their achievements, and in particular their bravery, and raised her own Regiment of Irish Foot Guards in 1900.

The Micks, as the Irish Guards are popu¬larly known, first saw action as mounted infantry in the Boer War, shortly after their formation. From their experience in that war was forged a close-knit family Regiment of exceptional professional qualities whose gallantry and fighting spirit was to be recognized in the ensuing two World Wars by the awards of six Victoria Crosses.

During the course of these wars the Regiment fought in practically every major battle. In the Second World War they displayed their exceptional versatility by fighting in such varied roles as Infantry, Armoured, Paratroop and Commando soldiers; their proudest moment amongst many was their service in North Africa and Italy under the command of that outstanding soldier and much-loved Irish Guardsman, Field Marshal The Earl Alexander of Tunis, Fifth Colonel of the Irish Guards.

Each year on St Patrick's Day shamrock is distributed to each Guardsman in a Royal tradition dating back to 1901. Originally given by Queen Alexandra, then for many years by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, this duty is now graciously performed by The Princess Royal.

A unique feature of the Irish Guards is that they are the only Regiment in the Household Division to have a mascot to lead them on parade. Their mascot is an Irish Wolfhound.

The Uniforms
The Irish Guards can be recognized by their four-button groupings on the tunics and sleeve cuffs. The plume worn on the righthand side of the bearskin cap consists of 6in (15cm) of St Patrick's blue cut feathers or bristle, depending on rank. The collar badge is a shamrock which is white on Guardsmen's tunics but embroidered in silver on Officers' and Warrant Officers' tunics. The peaked forage cap worn with Home Service Dress has a green band.

Pipers wear saffron kilts with dark green tunics and their caubeen headdresses also bear a St Patrick's blue hackle or plume.

The Irish Guards

Enlistment poster for the Irish Guards, 1901. Requirements were for men between the ages of 18 and 25.

The Irish Guards

The Irish Guards, like all Guards Regiments, carry out ceremonial and operational duties with the same efficiency. They are all highly trained in the use of modern weaponry.

The Irish Guards

The Irish Guards are led by their mascot, an Irish Wolfhound. Brian Boru, the first mascot of the Regiment, 1902-10, was named after the famous king of Ireland, and subsequent dogs have been named after Irish heroes.

The Irish Guards

Cuchulain, the wolfhound which is the mascot of the Irish Guards, with his handler.

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