A Duke, a Duchess, a dog and 300 sprigs of shamrock…it could only be the Irish Guards celebrating St Patrick’s Day!
Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the guests of honour at this year’s Irish Guards’ St Patrick’s Day Parade held at the home of 1st Battalion Irish Guards, Mons Barracks in Aldershot.
In a time honoured tradition which dates back to 1900, sprigs of shamrock were presented to members of the battalion on parade by a female member of the Royal Family with Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge personally presenting the officers with theirs.
"Me and him have a classic bond between us, he’s my dog and I’m his handler; we’re the best pf mates and that is why he’s so good.” Drummer Adam Walsh, Dog Handler to Irish Guards' Wolfhound Mascot
Of course, the last sprig of shamrock was reserved for the Regiment’s beloved Irish Wolfhound mascot Turlough Mὀr (Pron. Tur-lock More), affectionally known throughout the ranks simply as Shamus. Named after Turlough Mὸr of Connaught who ruled as High King of Ireland between 1136 and 1156AD he leads out the regiment on ceremonial occasions. He behaved impeccably as the Duchess knelt down to attach his sprig to his collar and congratulated him with a pat on his head.
Speaking of Turlough Mὀr, his handler, Drummer Adam Walsh said:
“He’s loved by everyone in the battalion, no matter what happens people come up everyday to say hello to him and see how he’s getting on. He really boosts morale around the battalion. Me and him have a classic bond between us, he’s my dog and I’m his handler; we’re the best pf mates and that is why he’s so good.”
With the Shamrock, or Seamrὸg to give it its gaelic name, duly distributed the battalion performed a march past with His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cambridge taking the salute.
Following the pomp and ceremony of the parade Her Royal Highness was presented with two posies. One by the seven-year-old Darcey Rose Tomlinson, daughter of the battalion’s Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant and the other by Gaia Money; at only 20 months old she almost stole the show when she handed the Duchess her flowers and tried on her Dad's bearskin cap; her Dad being Lieutenant Colonel Rob Money, the Commanding Officer.
The parade, the first since 2019 when the whole battalion has been on parade, marks the beginning of a period of high-profile ceremonial duties in the capital and Windsor, and the end of an exceptionally busy operational period for this dual-roled battalion. The Irish Guards have deployed to Uganda, Jordan, Kenya, Georgia, South Sudan and Iraq before becoming the primary infantry Army unit deployed across the UK in the COVID Support Force.
The soldiers will begin preparations very shortly for trooping their Colour in June on Horse Guards Parade at Her Majesty The Queen’s Official Birthday Parade. This long awaited event will mark the start of the Platinum Jubilee weekend.
The tradition of handing out shamrock to the Irish Guards dates back to 1900, the year the regiment was formed by order of Queen Victoria for bravery displayed by Irish Units during the Boer War, a war that witnessed colossal Irish casualties.
The monarch declared that the Irish Guards would wear a sprig of shamrock in their headdress to mark the gallantry of their fallen comrades while celebrating their patron saint, St Patrick, whose blue plume they wear as their regimental identifier in their bearskin caps.
Prince William became Colonel Irish Guards in 2011 and wore the uniform for his wedding to Catherine Middleton that same year. The Irish Guards red tunics have buttons arranged in groups of four to distinguish it from the other four regiments of foot guards.