Over 250 soldiers and ‘old comrades’ from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment (2 R Irish) have been presented with their shamrock at a Drumhead Service and Parade in Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn.
Soldiers from the Battalion were accompanied on parade by Old Comrades representing the antecedent Irish Regiments and a more youthful cohort of Army Cadets, with music provided by the Battalion’s Bugles, Pipes and Drums and the Army Cadet Corps of Drums bands.
The shamrock presentation parade is a conspicuous event in the Battalion’s programme, and originates back to the Second Boer War at the turn of the 20th century when Queen Victoria instructed all ranks of her Irish Regiments to wear, as a distinction, a sprig of shamrock in their head dress, to commemorate the gallantry of her Irish soldiers in South Africa.
Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE, inspected the parade and assisted with the presentation of the shamrocks to soldiers and their families, and reflected on the parade.
“The presentation of the shamrock embodies the spirit and gallantry of the Irish soldier,” she said. “Of course since the South African War at the turn of the 20th century, the loyal service and courage of the Irish soldier has been called on numerous times – from the Great War to World War 2, to Korea, to the Balkans and to Northern Ireland, as well as a myriad of smaller conflicts in between.
“The soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions The Royal Irish Regiment have being adding to a proud tradition, especially during the last decade of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Addressing the soldiers, families and guests she complimented the soldiers on their turn-out and commitment.
“2 Royal Irish is a well recruited Army Reserve battalion that is at the forefront of the changes being rolled out across the British Army, and I sense that you relish the challenges arising,” she continued.
“Just looking at the Battalion’s programme over the last year makes me breathless – with soldiers deploying to 13 overseas countries on four continents; on a range of operations, Defence Engagement activities and exercises.
“Outside the operational tours in Afghanistan and Cyprus, the Battalion has also deployed over 125 personnel on nine overseas training teams to East Africa in the last two and half years. With this sort of tempo we could be forgiven for forgetting that 2 Royal Irish is a part-time Army Reserve battalion.
“The professionalism and high regard the Battalion is held in, is a credit to all those serving in and connected with the Battalion.”
She went on to praise those who support the Army Reserves. “However this level of commitment would not be possible without the continued support of your families, friends and employers,” she concluded. “I wholeheartedly thank them for their encouragement and backing.”
At the conclusion to the parade over 1200 supporters cheered the Battalion as they marched off to the Regimental March ‘Killaloe’.