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History of the Regiment

The history of the Regiment is traced back to 20th June 1689 with raising of Tiffins's Regiment of Foot (later to become the 27th or Inniskilling Regiment of Foot) which fought in the Williamite Wars. Of the remaining Regimental antecedents, the 83rd, 86th, 87th and 89th Regiments of Foot were all raised in 1793 for service in the Napoleonic Wars.
On 1st July 1881, the Cardwell Reforms brought about the amalgamations of the 27th and 108th to form the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the 83rd and 86th to form the Royal Irish (later Ulster) Rifles, and the 87th and 89th to form Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers). On 1st July 1968 these three Regiments amalgamated again to form The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th).

The Ulster Defence Regiment was raised in April 1970 to protect the Border and the State against sabotage and armed attack in Northern Ireland. On 1st July 1992 The Royal Irish Rangers, the last Irish Infantry Regiment of the line, merged with The Ulster Defence Regiment to form The Royal Irish Regiment.

The Royal Irish Regiment is unique in the British Army. It consists of one Air Assault battalion (1 R IRISH), liable for service world wide, and one Reserve battalion (2 R IRISH) who are part-time soldiers based in Northern Ireland and provide our Reserve when required. 2 R IRISH are an integral part of our ability to deploy in the world anywhere, at short notice, and provide a capable fighting force.

Today's regiment

The end of the Cold War brought about a review of the whole of the UK's Armed Forces - called 'Options for Change.' Further reductions in the Army resulted from this review and included the amalgamation of The Royal Irish Rangers and The Ulster Defence Regiment to form The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd, 87th and The Ulster Defence Regiment).

The Royal Irish Rangers had itself been created exactly twenty-four years earlier on 1 July 1968 by the amalgamation of the last three Irish Line Infantry Regiments. These were The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Royal Irish Fusiliers: each had distinguished records stretching back to the 17th century with Battle Honours from almost every corner of the world.

The Ulster Defence Regiment came into being on 1 April 1970 in response to the demand for additional troops to support the civil power in Northern Ireland. Its role was to help defend Northern Ireland against terrorist activity. From its creation until its merger with The Royal Irish Rangers, it was on continuous operational service for a period of twenty-two years, a distinction held by no other regiment in the history of the British Army.

This service was not without cost: 197 Officers and Soldiers were killed because they served in the Regiment. Over 60 were murdered after they had left the UDR. This gallantry and devotion to duty, of the many thousands of men and women who served in the UDR was acknowledged in the large number of honours and awards for gallantry bestowed upon individuals.

In August 1993 the two General Service battalions amalgamated to form one single General Service Battalion, The 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment. Since that amalgamation The 1st Battalion has served three times in Northern Ireland alongside their Home Service comrades on operational tours of duty.

Today The Royal Irish Regiment has one Air Assault Battalion, 1 R IRISH, available for worldwide service and our Reserve Battalion, 2 R IRISH, who reinforce 1 R IRISH for operations.

Since joining 16 Air Assault Brigade in 2003, we have served in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northen Ireland - Iraq Afghanistan. Our soldiers are some of the most experienced warriors in the British Army.

We are consistently the most operationally committed Regiment in the Army and this enduring commitment is unparalleled in modern military history.

History of the regiment

Visit our Virtual Military Gallery to explore the history of the Royal Irish Regiment from the Napoleonic Wars, through the Boer War, WWI, WWII and post-war era.