Regimental Mascots

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 colours.

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.
 Tucks postcard
 Tucks Postcard - Drummer boy with
the Regimental Pet, Brian Boru
In 1902 The Irish Guards were presented with their first colours by King Edward VII at a ceremony on Horse Guards Parade.
 Presenting the Colours
 H.M. The King presenting new Colours to the Irish Guards at Buckingham Palace
(This particular presenting of the Colours took place in 1913, when the mascot was Leitrim Boy)
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....
"Yours truly...."

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.
 Presentation of Rajah of Kidnal
 The presentation to the Irish Guards at the Kennel Club Show, 1902
To the left of Rajah of Kidnal is Mrs. Gerard and Captain Graham, with Fred Gresham at Rajah's head

Once presented to the Irish Guards, Rajah became known as Brian Boru (after Ireland's greatest National Hero).
 Rajah of Kidnal
 Rajah of Kidnal (Brian Boru)
Rajah of Kidnal from The Graphic 
 Rajah as he appeared in The Graphic, October 25 1902
The piece accompanying the picture was entitled
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.
Brian Boru   Brian Boru
 Painting of Brian Boru and handler,
with Irish Guard
 Photograph of Brian Boru with handler
(Photo taken at Aldershot in 1906)

Picture from The Sphere 
 Illustration from The Sphere of February 14th, 1903 entitled
and their faithful Wolfhound
The Irish Guards are very proud of their wolfhound, which was presented to them by the Irish Wolfhound Club. His name is Rajah of Kidnal. He walks out with the regiment on all their marches. The battalion is stationed at present at the Tower where this picture was sketched.
The illustration is by Percy Spence.
Rajah in 1904 
 Rajah (or 'Paddy', as he was known) as he appeared in The Field in 1904
offduty drummers with Brian Boru 
 Painting by C.A. Collins, c. 1905, of off duty Drummers in the Tower of London
with Brian Boru
Inspection by Field Marshal Earl Roberts 
 Inspection by Field Marshal Earl Roberts, VC, 1st Battalion Irish Guards
Gale & Polden postcard c. 1905 from The Wellington Series 
 Brian Boru can be seen on the right of the picture with his handler
Drums & Fifes Irish Guards 
 Postcard from about 1908 of the Drums & Fifes of the Irish Guards with Brian Boru,
Regimental Pet
Postcard circa 1908. In the Ettlingers "New Art" Series. 
painting by Godfrey Merry 
 Painting by Godfrey Merry of Brian Boru leading the Irish Guards from
Buckingham Palace, c 1908, on a very wet day
 postcard of Brian Boru in Windsor
 Postcard - posted in 1908 - showing Brian Boru and handler in Windsor
St. Patricks Day 1908 
 St. Patrick's Day 1908. Brian Boru on the right
 The Irish Guards marching through the park
 Postcard of The Irish Guards with their regimental pet, Brian Boru, marching thro' the Park
(on the back of the card it reads: "The Irish Guards are part of the Household Brigade, and the regiment was raised in April 1900 to commemorate the bravery of the Irish regiments in the South African War. In the Great War, the Irish Guards, on the 23rd August, 1914, stood for the first time in the line of battle. They distinguished themselves at Ypres and Loos and on the Somme and in the critical fighting in 1918.")
Brian Boru and handler 
 This is a plate from a book printed in 1912 but, since it is of
Brian Boru and he retired in 1910, the picture was presumably
taken no later than 1910, when he would have been ten years
old, which would be about right for the way he looks.
 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
Black & White whisky advertisement 
 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."
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Updated 7/11/2007