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History

The Irish Guards was formed on 1 April 1900 to commemorate the bravery of the many Irish regiments which fought in the South African campaigns. Under the direction of its first Bandmaster, Warrant Officer Charles Hassell, the Regimental Band made its first public appearance the following year. The Band quickly gained a reputation for excellence as evidenced by the glowing press reports in 1905 for what turned out to be the first of many tours of Canada. The citizens of Toronto were so impressed with its performance that they presented the Band with an ornate silver cup, which to this day remains one of its cherished possessions.

On the 23 January 1923, the Band made what is believed to be the very first broadcast by a military band, the programme being broadcast live on the 2LO station from a studio in Marconi House in The Strand.  In 1953 the Band was chosen to give the UK premier performance of Paul Hindemith's 'Symphony for Concert Band', something considered to be something of a breakthrough in composition style.

In 1948, the Band travelled to Palestine to support the Guards battalions involved in the troubles. Sadly, during this time the Band was ambushed and one member, Lance Corporal Ted Jones, was shot and killed. He is buried in Sarafand Military Cemetery.

The Band has also made numerous appearances on television and in films, including The Ipcress File, and Oh! What a Lovely War, as well as being engaged to whistle Colonel Bogey for the soundtrack of The Bridge on the River Kwai. A number of former Band members have continued their careers with national orchestras, including the Hallé, the BBC Symphony and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Two former Directors of Music, Major George Willcocks and Lt Col 'Jiggs' Jaeger also conducted the Black Dyke Mills Band at the National Brass Band Championships.

Over the years the Band has toured extensively, including a visit to Japan in 1972, where it was accorded the honour of being the first foreign band ever to play in the Imperial Palace in the presence of the Empress and the two Crown Princesses. Three members of the Band served in the first Gulf war of 1990/91, and in June 1999 the Band deployed to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping force.

The Band is now based at Wellington Barracks in London and provides the musical support for all major ceremonial events in London and at Windsor. In 2010 the band undertook an eleven week coast-to-coast tour of North America, and it was very much involved with the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, playing in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at the climax of the celebrations."

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