Royal Irish Regiment (1992)

For the regiment of the same name, disbanded in 1922, see Royal Irish Regiment (1684–1922).
Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment)

Flag of the Royal Irish Regiment
Active 1 July 1992–present
1689 (antecedents)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Line Infantry
Role 1st Battalion – Light infantry
2nd Battalion – Light infantry (Army Reserve)
Size Two battalions
Part of Prince of Wales' Division
Garrison/HQ RHQ – Holywood
1st Battalion – Clive Barracks, Ternhill
2nd Battalion – Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn
Motto(s) "Faugh A Ballagh" (Irish)
"Clear the Way"
Colours Green, Red, Blue, Black
March Quick – Killaloe
Slow – Eileen Alannah
Mascot(s) Irish Wolfhound (Brian Boru VIII)
Anniversaries Barrosa Day, 5 March; Somme Day, 1 July
Engagements Kosovo War, Sierra Leone Civil War, Operation Banner, 2nd Gulf War, War in Afghanistan
Colonel in Chief HRH The Duke of York
Colonel of
the Regiment
Brigadier Joseph O'Sullivan
Lt Col Tim Collins OBE
Tactical Recognition Flash
Tartan Saffron (pipes)
Hackle Green
From Royal Irish Rangers
Abbreviation R IRISH

The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment) (R IRISH) is an infantry regiment of the British Army. The regiment was founded in 1992 through the amalgamation of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence Regiment. Their oldest predecessor; the 27th Regiment of Foot; was first raised in June 1689 to fight in the Williamite War in Ireland. Other notable regiments in their lineage include the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's).

The motto of the regiment is Faugh A Ballagh (Modern Irish: Fág an Bealach), derived from the Irish Gaelic phrase for "Clear the Way". This originates from the Peninsular War, when Ensign Edward Keogh of the 87th Regiment of Foot let out the cry while capturing a French Imperial Eagle at the Battle of Barrosa. The Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Irish Regiment has been Palace Barracks, Holywood in County Down, Northern Ireland since moving there in 2008.


With an antecedence reaching back to 1688, the regiment was formed in 1992. The creation followed the Options for Change proposals which recommended the amalgamation of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). Most of the membership of the new regiment came from the UDR. This produced an overwhelmingly Ulster Protestant regiment with eleven battalions:[1]

The Home Service battalions, permanently based in Northern Ireland, filled the role formerly occupied by the UDR, assisting the Royal Ulster Constabulary (with a focus on combatting militant Irish republicanism), in Northern Ireland during Operation Banner. The 1st and 2nd Battalions could serve worldwide as general service battalions.[2]

Because of its size, the regiment was removed from the King's Division and existed within its own Division of infantry. In August 1993, the two regular battalions were amalgamated as the 1st battalion.[3]

In 2000 in Sierra Leone, while deployed to train government troops, eleven Royal Irish soldiers and their local army liaison officer were kidnapped by the West Side Boys insurgents. Five hostages were later released and the remaining six were freed by the Special Air Service and The Parachute Regiment during Operation Barras, with the West Side Boys suffering severe casualties in the action.[4]

The 1st battalion deployed to Iraq at the beginning of Operation Telic in March 2003, where they carried out operations in the south of the country. Its now-retired commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for distinguished service.[5]

The number of Home Service battalions were reduced to three by April 2003:[6]

In 2005, The Provisional Irish Republican Army announced an end to its armed campaign. In response the British government announced the end of Operation Banner, and with it the disbandment of the Home Service battalions.[7] A redundancy package was announced in March 2006.[8] The Home Service battalions were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) by the Queen in Belfast on 6 October 2006.[9] The home service battalions were declared non-operational in October 2006, and disbanded in July 2007.[10] At the same time, the Royal Irish Rangers, then serving as the TA battalion, was renamed as 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment.[11]

The 1st battalion returned from six months in Iraq on Op TELIC VI/VII in May 2006 having served in the Shaibah Logistics Base near Basra. Although the majority of the Battalion was deployed around the MND(SE) area a single Company was deployed to Baghdad.[12]

Three platoons of the 1st battalion (Barrosa, Somme and Ranger Platoons) deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade and supported 3rd Parachute Regiment, the later forming 9 Platoon, C Coy, 3 PARA. They were involved in some of the heaviest fighting during HERRICK IV. Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead, Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch and Fijian Ranger Anare Draiva were killed by the Taliban during HERRICK IV.[13]

In summer 2007 the regiment moved its headquarters from St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena to Palace Barracks, Holywood, Belfast.[14]

Both battalions deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. The 1st battalion provided Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) to assist in training the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), and the 2nd battalion were the first Territorial Army company strength grouping to provide OMLT training from NATO forces. They were also the first TA Company to fully man Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) within the green zone. One company of the 1st Battalion, attached to 2 PARA, named Ranger Company, undertook offensive operations in the Sangin area of Helmand Province. The 1st battalion lost Ranger Justin Cupples to an improvised explosive device (IED) during HERRICK VIII.[15]

Both battalions again deployed with 16 Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan on HERRICK XIII from September 2010. Based in the southern part of Helmand, they lost Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, Ranger Aaron McCormick and Ranger David Dalzell during HERRICK XIII.[16]

Current structure

The 1st Battalion (1 R IRISH) is a Regular Army light protected mobility unit and comes under 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East. Its personnel are based at Clive Barracks in Ternhill.[17]

The 2nd Battalion (2 R IRISH) is an Army Reserve light infantry unit and also comes under 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East. Its personnel are based at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.[17]

Operational honours



Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scrolls

Up to May 2010, 32 Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scrolls have been issued to the families of Royal Irish personnel.[23]


In memory of a 2006 battle in the Afghan town of Musa Qala, a new Regimental March, composed by Chris Attrill and commissioned by Larne Borough Council, was given to the regiment on Saturday 1 November 2008 in Larne, County Antrim during an event in which the regiment was also presented with the 'Freedom of the Borough'. This gives the regiment the right to march through the town with "flags flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed". The March was named Musa Qala.[24]

Sticks made of Blackthorn are carried by commissioned officers of the Royal Irish Regiment.[25]

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Welsh
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
The Parachute Regiment


1880[26] 1881 Childers Reforms[26] 1921 Name changes 1957 Defence White Paper 1966 Defence White Paper 1990 Options for Change 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World
27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th) The Royal Irish Regiment
108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment of Foot
83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot The Royal Irish Rifles The Royal Ulster Rifles
86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot
87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's)
89th (Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot
The Ulster Defence Regiment



  1. "Irish regiment marches ahead: Christopher Bellamy reports on the new Army regiment that marks the demise of the UDR". The Independent. 30 June 1992. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  2. "The Army". Hansard. 24 February 1993. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  3. "History of the Regiment". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  4. "Eyewitness: Held by the West Side Boys". BBC News. 30 August 2000. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57100. p. 3. 31 October 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  6. "Royal Irish Regiment Home Battalions". UK Parliament. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  7. "Royal Irish units to be disbanded". BBC. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  8. "BBC Website "NI soldiers getting £250m pay-off"". BBC News. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  9. "Queen awards Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to the Royal Irish Regiment". 6 October 2006. Archived from the original on October 9, 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  10. "Royal Irish Regiment". Ballymoney. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  11. "Irish Rangers/North Irish Militia". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  12. "1 R IRISH deploys to Iraq". Royal Irish. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  13. "Fallen heroes brought home". Oxford Mail. 12 September 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  14. "NI: 1,500 jobs to be axed as army bases are closed". Breaking News. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  15. "Ranger Justin James Cupples killed in Afghanistan". Ministry of Defence. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  16. "Duke of York awards Elizabeth Cross to soldiers killed in Afghanistan". The Telegraph. 18 June 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  17. 1 2 "Transforming the British Army: An update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 9. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  18. "Soldier talks of 'occupational hazards'". BBC. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  19. "Operational Honours and Awards List". MOD Website – Op TELIC Awards. 18 March 2005. Archived from the original on March 18, 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  20. 1 2 "Operational Honours and Awards List". Ministry of Defence. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Operational Honours and Awards List". Ministry of Defence. 6 March 2009. Archived from the original on March 10, 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  22. "Armed Forces Operational Honours". London: The Daily Telegraph. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2007.
  23. "Response to a Freedom of Information Act request". Ministry of Defence. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  24. "New march to be gifted at Larne ceremony". Newsletter. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  25. "Ireland's Blackthorn Stick". Tintean. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  26. 1 2 The London Gazette, Page 3300-3301 (1 July 1881). "Childers Reform" (24992). Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
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