Commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Laying-up of the Colours of the Disbanded Irish Regiments of the British Army
In 1922, on the partition of Ireland and the creation of the Irish Free State, six Irish Regiments of the British Army – five Infantry and one Cavalry – were disbanded, as they were recruited from men mainly from the South of Ireland.
This was a sad blow to these brave and gallant Regiments, whose history, service and loyalty to the British Crown went back for hundreds of years.
On 12th June 1922 the five Irish Infantry Regiments paraded their Colours in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle for the last time, when they were handed over to His Majesty King George V, on an emotional and emotive day.
A Regimental Engraving was handed over to The King on behalf of the South Irish Horse since they possessed neither Standard nor Guidon.
Receiving the Colours, His Majesty said, “I pledge my word that, within these ancient and historic walls, your Colours will be treasured, honored, and protected as hallowed memorials of glorious deeds of brave and loyal Regiments.”
Each Regiment had two Battalions, and each Battalion had two Colours – the King’s Colour and the Regimental Colour – making a total of 20 Colours in all. The Colours have remained at Windsor Castle for 80 years, surviving the great fire at the Castle in the early 1990’s, when they were carried to safety.
I decided that this year, 2002, the 80th anniversary of the laying-up of the Colours, the event should be remembered, and accordingly, having received the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, a Service to Commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Laying-up of the Colours of the Disbanded Irish Infantry Regiments was held in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle on 12th June 2002, eighty years to the day of the original laying-up.
HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Irish Regiment attended the Commemoration, together with His Excellency the Ambassador of Ireland, Mr Daithi O’Ceallaigh ; General Colm Mangan, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces ; and many senior retired Officers of the British Army and the Irish Defence Forces. Also attending were members of this Association, representatives from the Irish Regiments past and present, members of ONE (the Irish Army Ex-service Association) and many notable civilian organisations from the UK and Ireland.
The opening address was given by General Sir Roger Wheeler and the Service was conducted by the Rt Rev Dr Victor Dobbin, former Chaplain General to the Forces. Mr Tom Burke from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association read the Lesson and General Corran Purdon read the Collect of the Combined Irish Regiments Association.
A very powerful and eloquent closing address was given by the Irish Ambassador.
Although 80 years have passed since the Regiments were disbanded, there are still many links with the present day.
General Corran Purdon’s cousin, Lieut WCV Galway MC was in the Colour Party of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment and carried their Regimental Colour at the laying-up ceremony in 1922.
Mr Desmond Moraghan, who lives in Wrexham, North Wales, and who also attended the Commemoration, is the son of the late RSM J Moraghan MC who paraded with the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers Colour Party, again in 1922. The RSM’s hand was on the Colours as they were handed over to His Majesty The King, and tonight Mr Moraghan placed his hand on the Colours in the same way his father would have held them 80 years ago.
It was a most moving ceremony, held in the splendour of the beautifully renovated St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle.
The 80th anniversary of the laying-up of the Colours of the Disbanded Irish Regiments of the British Army had been well and truly celebrated.
The bravery and gallantry of those loyal Irish Regiments has not been forgotten, and never will be forgotten.
Irish Regiments disbanded in 1922:
- The Royal Irish Regiment (18th Foot)
- The Connaught Rangers (88th and 94th Foot)
- The Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) (100th and 109th Foot)
- The Royal Munster Fusiliers (101st and 104th Foot)
- The Royal Dublin Fusiliers (102nd and 103rd Foot)
- The South Irish Horse
Rest in Peace
Major JM MacLeod
The following Headquarters, Regimental Headquarters, Serving Regiments Regimental Associations, and Organisations were represented at Windsor Castle on 12th June 2002 :
- Headquarters, Chief of Staff Irish Defence Forces
- Canadian Defence Liaison Staff (London)
- Regimental Headquarters, Irish Guards
- Regimental Headquarters, Royal Irish Regiment
- Irish Defence Forces
- Irish Guards
- Royal Irish Regiment
- North Irish Horse
- London Irish Rifles
- The Combined Irish Regiments OCA
- The Royal Irish Regiment
- The Connaught Rangers
- The Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)
- The Royal Munster Fusiliers
- The Royal Dublin Fusiliers
- The Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers
- The Royal Ulster Rifles
- The Royal Irish Fusiliers
- The London Irish Rifles
- The Ulster Defence Regiment
- The North Irish Horse – also representing the South Irish Horse
- Oglaigh Naisiunta Na Heireann
- The Irish Embassy, London
- The Irish Military Heritage Trust
- Bandon War Memorial Committee
- The Irish Peace Institute, Limerick
- Westminster Cathedral Project
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