Fixed bayonets and flying colours this weekend as military parade in Newtownards planned to honour the Irish Guards – one of the British Army’s Irish regiments

A military parade is set to he staged this weekend in honour of one of the British Army’s Irish regiments, the Irish Guards.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:51 am

The regiment has been granted the freedom of Ards and North Down – the second time the honour has been handed out since the borough was created in 2015.

Led by Seamus, the Irish Wolfhound who serves as the regiment’s mascot, it will involve 54 military personnel and 76 band members.

The honour once conferred the ability to stand for election on the recipient, as well as making them exempt from tolls. Today it is entirely ceremonial.

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A contingent of Irish Guards (with wolfhound mascot) parading through east Belfast in 2011 after returning from Afghanistan

The first time that the honour was handed out in the Ards and north Down area was 92 years ago, when it was granted to Bangor’s first-ever mayor Sir Thomas Saulters Wilson.

Since then, the combined council boroughs of Bangor, Ards, Newtownards, and North Down – all now largely subsumed into the Borough of Ards and North Down, have handed it out another 34 times.

The parade begins at Castle Street at 11am on Saturday, then goes via the High Street to Conway Square.

There a drumhead service will take place, before a return parade along the High Street, Mill Street, Gibson’s Lane, Regent Street, Frances Street, Castle Place, High Street, South Street, Court Street, Old Cross Street, and back to Castle Street.

Christopher Ghika

Alliance councillor Karen Douglas, mayor of Ards and North Down, said: “The award is being made in appreciation of the exceptional contribution and courage of the regiment.

“It is the highest honour a council can bestow on an individual or an organisation.

“It is an ancient privilege, dating back to the 1600s, and is now an honorary title reserved for those the council deems to have given eminent service...

“Many hundreds from Ards and North Down have been proud to serve over the years. By bestowing this honour, we are publicly recording our thanks and recognising the outstanding work the regiment delivers.”

The Irish Guards’ Major General Christopher Ghika CBE said: “It is not wasted on all Irish Guards personnel that it is a great honour to march through the Borough with which we have such strong ties, with drums beating, bayonets fixed and colours flying.

“As we cement this special relationship with Ards and North Down, we look forward to receiving and welcoming many more recruits into our ranks, for a career of travel, adventure and service.”

The Irish Guards were created in 1900, and despite their name they are headquartered in west London.

They are one of five regiments of the British Army with ‘Irish’ in their name, the others being the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, Royal Irish Regiment, 253 (North Irish) Medical Regiment, and 152 Regiment RLC.


Borough of Bangor

4 March 1930 Sir Thomas Saulters Wilson JP

15 July 1954 Alderman Thomas Bailie

16 January 1957 Captain Th Rt Hon The Viscount Brookeborough of Colebrooke

26 April 1957 Alderman and Colonel Sir Cullum Welch

23 May 1968 Alderman Charles F Milligan

23 September 1972 Alderman Robert V Campbell

Borough of Newtownards:

1 March 1948 Chevalier Alexander Dickson VMH

18 March 1952 The Most Honourable Dame Edith Helen Marchioness of Londonderry DBE LLD JP

5 November 1962 Alderman Isaac Baxter

Borough of Ards:

17 August 1990 Robert Edmond Gaw

15 September 1990 The 102nd (Ulster) Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

25 April 1992 The Ulster Defence Regiment

27 June 1992 The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th)

21 September 1996 The Royal British Legion (Northern Ireland)

7 October 2000 The Royal Ulster Constabulary

2 March 2001 Royal National Lifeboat Institution

March 2008 Northern Ireland Prison Service

June 2008 Royal Air Force

September 2012 James McBriar (former Councillor, Alderman and Mayor)

Borough of North Down:

6 September 1973 Mr Frederick Tughan

14 May 1981 Alderman J F R Hamilton

14 May 1981 Robert D McConnell OBE

27 May 1982 RUC and RUC Reserve

8 September 1990 Ulster Defence Regiment

12 September 1996 Royal British Legion, Northern Ireland

18 September 1997 Alderman Desmond George Green

17 June 1999 Alderman Bruce Mulligan, BEM

25 September 2004 Royal Irish Regiment 27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and The Ulster Defence Regiment

22 October 2005 (The Officers and Crew of) HMS Bangor

29 June 2007 Northern Ireland Prison Service

18 September 2010 Royal National Lifeboat Institution

24 March 2012 Police Service of Northern Ireland

8 June 2013 591 (Antrim Artillery) Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers Volunteers on Behalf of the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland

Borough of Ards and North Down:

1 September 2018 All Health and Social Care Staff serving throughout the Borough.