History of the Irish Guards Pipes
A number of sets of Irish War Pipes were presented to the Regiment by John Redmond MP, the home ruler, (his son was serving) in early 1916. Men from the 3rd (reserve) Battalion were trained by the Pipe Major of the London Irish Regiment although some could although some could already play. In May 1917 they were posted to the 1st and 2nd Battalions in France. The Pipes were financed by the officers until 1918, when they were placed on the establishment table.
They first wore Home Service Clothing on St Patrick’s Day 1921. Up to that point they wore saffron kilt, khaki jacket and khaki bonnet. On the bonnet they wore a saffron patch behind a large pipers star. The bonnet was worn in the traditional way and ‘pulled to the right’. When the full dress green piper’s bonnet with the St Patrick’s blue plume was worn for the first time in 1921, the plume, of course, was ‘on the left’. The Commanding Officer in 1922, Lieutenant Colonel The Hon HRLG Alexander, (later the Field Marshal) therefore ordered the bonnet should be pulled to the left in order that the plumes would match the Guardsmen’s bearskins plumes. Sometime after that it became customary for the khaki bonnet to be worn in the same way. These are no longer in use.
The Irish War Pipes or Brian Boru Pipes (i.e. two drone) were on Ordnance issue until the early 1960’s. However there was a mix of two drone and Scottish three drone Pipes in the Pipes from about 1945/46. There are a number of reasons for this:
a. In early 1946, for the first time, Irish Regimental Pipers were accepted at the piping school in Edinburgh. They were only permitted to use the three drone pipes.
b. A number of serving pipers were from Ulster civilian Pipe Bands, who used three drone sets and owned their own pipes.
c. The majority of pipers preferred the three drone sets.
d. Masters of two drone sets were a dying breed.
e. A number of sets of pipes were presented from time to time.
f. Ordnance refused to provide two different types for the Irish and Scots, particularly as the Irish now tended to prefer the Scots ‘three drones’.
The Corps of Drums
The Adjutant is responsible to the Commanding Officer of the Battalion for the efficiency and discipline of the Drummers and for the good order of their instruments.
It is accepted Regimental practice that on occasions when the tune ‘The Sash’ is played by the Regimental Band, Drums and Pipes it is followed by playing of the tune ‘The Wearing of the Green’ to ensure partisanship is not displayed and to demonstrate Regimental Unity.
The Drum Major is responsible to the Adjutant for discipline, musical training, drill and administration of the Drummers and the good order of their accommodation. The Drum Major is also responsible for seeing that routine calls are sounded correctly and punctually in Barracks. A Barrack Guard Drummer or Piper is normally required daily in barracks.
The Drum Major is a Household Drummer to the Sovereign. On appointment, if qualified should apply, through the Regimental Adjutant to the Comptroller to the Royal Household for a warrant of appointment.
The Drum Major looks after the Colours, sees that they receive proper care when wet and arranges for them to be wreathed with laurel on the anniversaries of Battle Honours. He is also responsible for the colour belts, buckles and cases.