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The Irish Guards reunited on parade for St Patrick’s Day

The Irish Guards Regimental family has gathered at a special parade and celebration in Aldershot on St. Patrick's Day, Sunday 17 March, 2024. The parade is a high point of the year for this dual-role regiment, which cherishes its Irish cultural roots. As always on this family day, thoughts were with and cheers raised for those unable to attend.

 

Commanding Officer James Aldridge said: “St Patrick’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the friendships that are so fundamental to our Regimental ethos and identity. With our busy and diverse operational schedules, it is the most prominent occasion for the Regimental family to come together, and welcome Micks of all ranks, from across the Army, past and present, and their families. We raised a glass to those unable to attend this year, especially those deployed in Africa and elsewhere.”

It's all about the “family”

Since last year’s St Patrick’s Day, the Irish Guards have maintained their relentless output of operational and ceremonial tasks. The Irish Guards “family” is made up of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, Number 9 Company Irish Guards, Number 12 Company Irish Guards, The Band of the Irish Guards, Reserves from Number 15 (Loos) Company Irish Guards (the London Guards), Irish Guards veterans and cadets, and of course, the inimitable Irish Guards Pipes and Irish Wolfhound Regimental Mascot!

In a 12-month period, the Battalion has seen 17 separate deployments to six African countries. Most deployments have been to Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. But tasks have also seen training teams of around 15 soldiers at a time deploying to Egypt, Burundi, and Mozambique. 

Counter poaching and peace support

The Irish Guards have been at the forefront of preventing the illegal wildlife trade, supporting countries in counter poaching activities in some of the world’s most vulnerable locations.

They have trained and supported local forces in peace support operations, in conducting bespoke counter-improvised explosive device training, and conducted countless medical courses for our allies overseas.

Support to Ukraine

In 2023 they were the lead force employed in delivering basic infantry training to Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom so that they could return to protect and liberate their homeland from unprovoked Russian invasion. 

Almost half the 1st Battalion Irish Guards was committed to leading a training delivery unit for the Ukrainians on Salisbury Plain, that included personnel from the newly formed Ranger Regiment, the Australian Army and the New Zealand Defence Force.

It was an intense period for the troops with back-to-back training courses and constant high-level political, military and international interest in the operation.

With our busy and diverse operational schedules, it is the most prominent occasion for the Regimental family to come together, and welcome Micks of all ranks, from across the Army, past and present, and their families. We raised a glass to those unable to attend this year, especially those deployed in Africa and elsewhere Lieutenant Colonel James Aldridge, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Irish Guards

The Irish Guards worked tirelessly to train around 2,000 Ukrainian personnel over the six months and continued to live up to their reputation for excellence. The task provided a deep sense of purpose for the instructors as many of the trainees headed straight to the front line a matter of days after finishing their training.

During the deployment, the Irish Guards received a number of high-profile visitors, including His Majesty The King, and the Secretary of State for Defence. They also welcomed their new Regimental Colonel, HRH The Princess of Wales.

Ceremonial commitment

Number 9 and Number 12 Public Duties Companies have also been busy. They have undertaken a number of high-profile events, including Trooping of the Colour in 2023, ceremonial support to the State Opening of Parliament, and a number of Guards of Honour for overseas dignitaries. Throughout, they have maintained their light role infantry capability, with operational field training exercises. In June 2024, Number 9 Company will troop their Colour for the King’s Birthday Parade.

This St Patrick’s Day is the first time in nearly 12 months that a full contingent of Irish Guardsmen has come together for a parade. The last occasion was Operation GOLDEN ORB, the Coronation celebrations for His Majesty King Charles III, where 236 Irish Guards officers and soldiers participated.

St Patrick’s Day

Today, the Irish Guards were woken just after dawn with the sound of the bagpipes and given a cup of “gunfire” (tea with a tot of Irish Whiskey), before attending a drumhead church service for their Patron Saint, St Patrick. After a hearty Irish breakfast, 250 Irish Guardsmen marched onto the Parade Square at Mons Barracks, led by their mascot, the 3-year-old Irish Wolfhound, Turlough Mor (Seamus), the Pipes and the Regimental Band of the Irish Guards.

Lady Ghika, wife of the Irish Guards’ Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, Major General Sir Christopher Ghika, stepped forward to present the baskets of shamrock to Officers and Warrant Officers, who in turn issued it along the immaculately turned out ranks.

Lady Ghika then presented shamrock to the senior ranks and a specially made sprig for the Mascot Turlough Mor, which was affixed to the dog’s solid silver collar bearing the names of the 16 mascots who had preceded him.

The parade concluded with a march-past where the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, Major General Sir Christopher Ghika, took the salute.

On this family day all thoughts were very much with the Royal Colonel Irish Guards, HRH The Princess of Wales, and everyone wishes her well in her recovery.

Three cheers for the Royal Colonel

The Irish Guards, in keeping with tradition wherever they are stationed around the world, gave a rousing three cheers for the Royal Colonel at the end of the parade and another for the Inspecting Officer and Lady Ghika.

Following the parade, official Officers' and Sergeants’ Mess photographs were taken, and afterwards everyone came together for a toast of Irish Stout and a celebratory lunch.

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