The Irish Guards
|The following newspaper article is the first mention I have found of the Irish Guards:-|
| The War office authorities deny the truth of recent reports that they
have taken preliminary steps towards the establishment of a battalion of Irish
Guards, and have met with failure. It is perfectly true that they have in
contemplation the addition of such a battalion to the British army, though its
formation is not to be undertaken until the matter can be considered in
connection with the military proposals to be made by the Government in the
coming session. At present Ireland is not, except by individual soldiers,
represented in the brigade of guards. and it is thought that the formation of
an Irish battalion would at the same time be a compliment to the sister
kingdom, and a means of attracting some excellent fighting material to the
Mr. Balfour once declared in one of the regular debates which the Irish members of the House of Commons get up in seeking to denounce commanding officers for refusing to permit soldiers when on duty to wear the shamrock on St. Patrick's day, that he was sure many Scotsmen did not think of St. Andrew's Day, and that a large number of Englishmen were altogether oblivious of the date of the festival of St. George.
The Liverpool Courier, Thursday, December 2nd, 1897
|For another newspaper article from 1897 - on the bravery of the Irish - click here|
|The regiment of The Irish Guards was formed in April, 1900 by order of HRH
Queen Victoria to commemorate the bravery of the Irish troops in the Boer War
in 1899 and 1900. The Irish Guards played a major part in both World Wars,
winning a total of six Victoria Crosses.
In 1901 HRH Princess Alexandra first presented the Irish Guards with shamrock and this presentation by a member of the Royal Family has continued every year since on St. Patrick's Day (March 17th).
The Regimental Mascot is an Irish Wolfhound who is looked after by a Drummer (Guardsmen of the Corps of Drums are given the rank of Drummer), and leads the Regiment on all parades. In the earliest days, it was a drummer boy who took care of the hound.
|In 1902 The Irish Guards were presented with their first colours by King Edward VII at a ceremony on Horse Guards Parade.|
|The officers of the Irish Wolfhound Club had been looking for ways to bring
the Irish Wolfhound breed to the notice of more people because they felt that
greater popularity would make the breed's revival more certain, and they hit on
the notion of presenting an Irish wolfhound to the Irish Guards.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Club on October 15th, 1901 the Hon Secretary proposed "That with a view to increasing the popularity of the breed, the Club do present an Irish Wolfhound to the newly raised regiment of Irish Guards, provided it be accepted for the purposes of a regimental hound, and the Honorary Secretary be authorised to conduct the matter on behalf of the Club."
It was proposed by Captain Graham [President of the Club and Chairman at the AGM] that a sum of ten guineas be voted from the Club funds towards the purchase of a suitable Irish Wolfhound for the Irish Guards - unanimously passed. Capt. Graham then made a call for subscriptions for the purchase of the hound - he headed the list with £1.1.0d., and a sum of £11.11.0d. was raised towards the cost. [Note: £11.11.0d in 1901 is the equivalent of £862.04 in 2006, using the retail price index]
A letter, dated 8 January, 1902 and addressed to Capt. Graham, was received from A.J. Cooper, Lt. Colonel of the 1st Btn. Irish Guards:
"My Dear Sir,
"On behalf of my Battalion I beg to tender you as President of the Irish Wolfhound Club our expression of thanks for the presentation of an Irish Wolfhound by the members of the Club. We feel the kind thought which prompted the gift, and shall appreciate the Hound as a Regimental Pet.
"Trusting you will inform the members of the Club of the gratitude of the 1st Btn. Irish Guards....
To this end, the Club created a special class for the breed at the Kennel Club Show at Crystal Palace in 1902. The Class was called "The Irish Guards Presentation Hound Competition", was open only to members of the Club, there was no entry fee and the sum of 30 guineas was to be paid to the owner of the winning dog, so it had increased during the months since the AGM. [Note: 30 guineas in 1902 is the equivalent of £2,351.01 in 2006, using the retail price index, so this was going to be quite an expensive gift to the Irish Guards]
The class had eight entries and took place at 3 p.m. on the second day of the show. It was judged by Captain Graham assisted by Fred Gresham and R. Hood Wright and they made their selection of the hound best fitted in their opinion "by age, promise, quality or appearance, keeping in view the fact that it has to be trained for Regimental purposes".
The class was won by Mrs. Gerard's Rajah of Kidnal, born May 24th, 1900, by Ch. O'Leary out of Cheevra. Once presented to the Irish Guards, Rajah became known as Brian Boru (after Ireland's greatest National Hero).
|Rajah as he appeared in The Graphic, October 25 1902|
|The piece accompanying the picture was entitled
THE IRISH GUARDS NEW PET
This Irish wolf hound "Rajah of Kidnal", exhibited by Mrs. A.J. Gerard,
was selected in the competition instituted by the Irish Wolf Hound Club
at the Kennel Club Show at the Crystal Palace, to be presented to the
Irish Guards as a regimental pet. The owner of the hound received
thirty guineas, the sum which was offered in the competition.
Our photograph is by Hall, Regent Street
|Brian Boru was the Regimental Pet (as they were called until 1961) from 1902 to 1910.|
| This postcard was posted in 1915, but the regimental
pet is obviously
Rajah of Kidnal and not Leitrim Boy who was in service at the time.
The postcard was "Designed and printed with authority by Geo. Falkner & Sons", London
| Front page of The Field for February 23rd, 1935
with an advertisement for
Black & White Scotch Whisky
showing The Irish Guards on St. Patrick's Day, from a painting by Christopher Clark, R.I.
(Although the date of publication is 1935, the hound appears to be Brian Boru [Rajah of Kidnal],
which is why it is included here. I have not been able to discover when the picture was painted)
| The advertisement reads: "The Irish Guards
..... Her Majesty Queen Victoria in order to commemorate the bravery shown by
the Irish Regiments in the operations in South Africa was "graciously
pleased to command that an Irish Regiment of Foot Guards be formed" (Army
Order 1st April 1900). The Pipes of the Regiment have one drone less than those
of the Scottish and the pipers are dressed in green tunic and saffron kilt. The
regimental pet is an Irish wolfhound. Field Marshal the Earl of Cavan is the
present Colonel of the Regiment, previous ones having been Earl Roberts, Earl
Kitchener and the Earl of Ypres.
The public has been pleased to signify its approval of the merits of "Black & White" - the Whisky of Royal Appointment."