Irish Warpipe

Royal Irish Fusiliers

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Above, Royal  Irish Fusilier Drummer Ian Ryan from Tipporary, holds up his drum so that 2nd Lt. Helen Murphy from Dublin and the Women's Royal Army Corps can use the drum's mirror like finish to check her hair before her Irish Dance performance.




Officers Mess, 1951.


Above is an early photo of a Fusilier piper on the right. Notice the odd size and shape of his caubeen. They were downsized over the years.


Above is the uncropped version of the painting of the Fusiliers on Malta, WWII.


The Royal Irish Fusiliers (1881-1968) are considered by most warpipers to have been the best players and foremost exponets of the two droned pipe. Their popular recordings made in the 1960's brought the music of the pipes to the rest of the world. The greatness of this regiment is shown not just by its battle record but in its popularity and recuitment of soldiers from south of the border in the Republic of Ireland. Not only was the regiment known by its nickname of "The Faughs" but also were often refered to by writers and even BBC announcers as "that famous Irish regiment". The regiments Irish identity can also be seen in its motto of "Faugh a Ballagh" (clear the way). The spelling is an 18th-century anglicization of the Irish-language words `Fág an bealach`. The Faughs were the only Irish regiment to have an Irish language motto.
The tour of America with the North Irish Brigade in the 1960's brought them and the instrument to an audience that was larger in numbers than anywhere in the world. As a result of this exposure in the States, Irish Fusilier style pipe bands began forming all over the country. Some of the bands featured the two droned pipe. This also caused the saffron kilt to become even more popular.
Below from The Irish Times in 2009.

July 10th 1963: Fraternising with the Royal Irish Fusiliers in Germany


BACK PAGES: IN 1963 Donal O’Donovan went to Celle in Germany to watch a British army ceremony for the Royal Irish Fusiliers and revealed a level of fraternisation between the largely Irish regiment and the Irish Army which would have been unlikely a decade later as the Northern “Troubles” polarised opinion.

“Warm work,” said Colonel CW Linford to a group of us as he came off the parade ground after he and his battalion had staged the most impressive, colourful and moving military spectacle I have seen. Col Linford commands the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, to whom Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer today presented new colours – the first for 26 years. The new colours embody battle honours won since 1937: the old colours will now be laid up – probably in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, which is the regimental chapel.

As the battalion, led by both its pipe and regimental bands, marched on to the square at Trenchard barracks here to the tune of Sons of the Brave , one sensed the pride of these Irishmen in their unit and their history. Virtually all their music is Irish, from O’Donnell Abu through The Top o’ Cork Road to Let Erin Remember .

The colours blessed today . . . are those of a fighting unit formed in 1793 as the 87th and 89th Regiments of Foot. They have fought in many famous battles since then, but the victory that they celebrated most is the Battle of Barrosa on March 5th, 1811, when they took the Eagle Standard of the 8th French Regiment and made it the basis of their own badge. During the Peninsular campaign, too, the regiment earned the nickname (now its motto) Faugh a Ballagh (clear the way). The motto, which arose from the spontaneous cries of the men during the battle of Barrosa, was not officially granted until the Boer War.

Now stationed in Germany, the 1st Battalion RIF expects to be posted to Belgium soon. It came here from Tripoli, where the Faughs staged a hectic welcome for the first Irish Army battalion to go to the Congo [on UN duty]\. So good was the party, I am told, that there were “deserters” on each side, and the Globemaster [aircraft] leaving for Leopoldville had eventually to be searched for men wearing black (British) boots spread carefully among those wearing brown (Irish) boots.

One result of this accidental and happy meeting was that the RIF has pressed for and got from the War Office permission for soldiers who formerly served with the Irish Army in the Congo to wear their UN Congo medals on parade.

The battalion lives in Trenchard barracks here, in a camp which looks like a campus. It was built in 1938 for the German army – reportedly by labour brought from nearby Belsen concentration camp. Belsen at that time was not the horror uncovered in 1945. It was a kind of corrective labour camp and did not begin to be a symbol of the worst of Nazism until near the end of the war. It had, in fact, never been fitted with gas chambers.

In barracks, life is full of opportunities that no enlisted man could find outside the army. Each company has its own bar; the men sleep up to only four to a room (Irish Army, please copy). And there are pastimes that many middle-class families cannot afford – riding stables, swimming pools, tennis courts, athletics, a nine-hole golf course on which some of the players are former caddies from Bray and Woodbrook.

“Hey, Winnie, yer mother wants yeh”. Not from Lower Saxony, but from Drimnagh, the children of soldiers, playing ball under my window in the mess. Strong Dublin accents seemed incongruous first, but a few days with the Fusiliers – who are 90 per cent Irish – convinced me that Ireland is where you find it.


The Fusiliers WWII.


A Fusilier piper in the kitchen Christmas 1939.


A Battalion in England

The following is the script of a B.B.C. broadcast which took place on Monday, 25th January, 1943.

The Royal Irish Fusiliers,
Monday, 25th January, 1943,
2.20-2.40 p.m.

     (Fade in on pipes and drums playing "Faugh-a-Ballagh: fade as background for announcement)

ANNOUNCER: "Pipes and Drums," a programme of pipe band music by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The Pipe-Major is T. Woods. Hugh MacPhee has written the programme, and Maurice Shillington presents it.

     (Brings up "Faugh-a-Ballagh"; holds, and fade behind opening speech)

NARRATOR: That's the tune that stirs all Irish Fusiliers. It calls to mind their Regimental Battle Cry first shouted at the Battle of Barrosa in the Peninsula War, and since heard on many a hard-fought field all over the world.
     Faugh-a-Ballagh" is Gaelic, and is translated as "Clear the way." It is the Regimental Motto, and the Regimental nickname - "The Faughs" - by which they are known throughout the Army bears witness to the way they have lived up to it.

     (Bring up "Faugh-a-Ballagh": hold, and fade out behind next speech)

NARRATOR: The Regiment is entitled to six Regimental Badges - most of them marks of Royal favour. The 87th and 89th Regiments, now the Royal Irish Fusiliers, were both raised in 1793 in the counties of Tipperary, Galway, Clare, Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Limerick. It is from such grand fighting materials that the traditions of the Regiment grew. An English officer who served with the "Faughs" from 1815 to 1825 wrote in his memoirs: "In that Corps there was a unity I have never seen in any other: and as for fighting, they were devils."
     The Regiment won undying glory at Barrosa in the Peninsula War. In 1811 the Prince Regent ordered that its title in future should be "The Prince of Wales' Own Irish Regiment," and that it should appear as a Badge of Honour on the Regimental Colours and Appointments, the Eagle with a Wreath of Laurel above the Harp, in addition to the Plume of the Prince of Wales, this is to commemorate the capture of the Eagle Standard of Napoleon's 8th Infantry Regiment.
     In 1827 it became the National Fusilier Regiment of Ireland, and as such wears the Fusiliers' Badge - "A Grenade Fired." Queen Victoria granted the privilege of wearing Princess Victoria's Coronet to perpetuate Her Majesty's regard for the Regiment. The Harp and Prince of Wales' Feathers were the original badge of the 87th who were raised as the 87th or Prince of Wales' Irish Regiment. The Sphinx superscribed Egypt was granted for the part they played in the 1801 campaign, which ended in the capitulation of Cairo. The early Irish warriors wore the saffron kilt. The pipers of the Royal Irish Fusiliers who are playing to-day still wear it. Their pride in it is expressed by this slow march by Pipe-Major Flynn, who is serving in one of the other Battalions. It is followed by two traditional airs, "O'Donnell Abu" and "Kelly the Lad from Killane," all played on the Irish was pipe.
          "The Saffron Kilt"
          "O'Donnell Abu"
          "Kelly the Lad from Killane"
     The story of the Royal Irish Fusiliers is one that deserves to be told around the ceilidh fireside with the tales of the Tuath de Danann, Finn MacCoul, and the other warriors whose fame is legendary. The capture of the French Eagle at Barrosa could in itself form the subject of an epic worthy of the great bards. It was in this fight that they captured the French standard. This was the Eagle standard decorated with a Golden Wreath, a distinction presented to the 8th Infantry Regiment to mark their gallantry against the Germans in the Jena Campaign. General Graham, afterwards Lord Lyndoch, who raised the glorious 90th, now the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), said of this battle; "The example was given and the first decisive blow was struck by the 87th. The battle was one of the bloodiest and one of the most creditable to the British troops in the history of the Army."
     Field-Marshal Lord Gough paid this tribute to the regiment: "To gallantry in the field they have added the most essential requisite in a soldier - orderly conduct in garrison. Fellows like these, fighting as they have done and acting as they do, what is there not to be expected of them? Such men you may trust. The chivalry of the Regiment was seen when the men, on their own initiative, gave a day's pay for the relief of the homeless Spanish peasants for whom they were fighting. At Tarifa the enemy strongly invested the town. The walls had been breached, and the 87th was given the task of holding the gap. The enemy were determined to take the town but the Faugh-a-Ballaghs, encouraged by their Drums and Fifes playing such stirring Irish airs, as "St. Patrick's Day" and "Garryowen," defied them. We shall hear the band playing these old tunes later on, but, in the meantime, here is one of their old national airs - "O'Neill's War March," followed by "MacGee's Reel," "Paddy Carey," a jig, and to finish the set the "6th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers," composed by Pipe-Major Woods, who is playing with the Drum and Pipes to-day.
          "O'Neill's War March"
          "MacGee's Reel"
          "Paddy Carey," a jig
          "The 6th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers," which Pipe-Major Woods composed as a tribute to the Regiment and his Commanding Officer.
     The habit of winning trophies began early in the history of the Regiment. In one of its first campaigns it stormed the citadel at Monte Video and captured the flag that flew over the fort. That is now one of the exhibits in the Royal United Services Museum. Quartermaster William Grady, the first man to enlist, was a member of this expeditionary force. Later in the campaign before the assault on Buenos Aires he was left in charge of the baggage with about twenty-six men as escort. Seventy men and two officers of the enemy attacked, thinking they had an easy prey, but they reckoned without the Irish and William Grady. They took the whole attacking force prisoner.
     One of the most prized of all the regimental trophies is Field-Marshal Jourdain's baton, seized by a drummer boy at the Battle of Vittoria, where the enemy was utterly routed.
     Another feature of regimental history is its family traditions. Many serving to-day bear names that have always been on the muster roll. The descendants of Patrick Masterson, who captured the Eagle at Barrosa, were members of the Regiment until the last of his line became Colour Sergeant. He was afterwards given his commission in the Devonshire Regiment, and gained the V.C. in South Africa.
     When the 1st Battalion went into action in France and Belgium in 1940 they were commanded by a Gough, a descendant of Field-Marshal Lord Lough, who commanded the Regiment in Spain.
     Through the years the Regiment has shown by outstanding marches how to take every chance of bringing the enemy to bay. "Blaney's Bloodhounds," they used to call them. Ability to march far and fast, and, however far, to go straight into action has always been a point of honour and pride. One of their favourite marching tunes has always been "Killaloe," and the shout at the end of the first part will recall many memories to many old comrades. It is followed by "Let Erin Remember," the first bar of which is the Regimental Bugle Call, a tune of which the men serving in the Regiment to-day say, "Mile Failte," to all their friends in the four provinces, with a special greeting to their comrades in arms in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
          "Let Erin Remember" which is played to friends at home and Irishmen everywhere.
     To follow the history of the Regiment you need to know the geography of the world. They have served with distinction in Egypt, South America, Spain, Java, Burma, the Crimea, the Soudan, Malta, and South Africa. They have fought three times in Flanders. The Green Hackle, one of their proudest distinctions, marks their gallantry in the South African Campaign. Two V.C.s were gained in the last war and ten Battle Honours. Battalions of the Regiment served in France, Macedonia, Gallipoli, and Palestine, and no doubt the enemy had cause to remember that it was as the English officer said 100 years ago: "As for fighting, they were devils."
     The Drums and Pipes now return to their war stations. They do so to the strains of their regimental marches, which are almost as numerous as their badges. There are four tunes, "St. Patrick's Day," and "Garryowen," which recall the Siege of Tarifa: "Norah Creina," a traditional Irish air played by the 89th, the 2nd Battalion; finishing with "Barrosa," which commemorates the Battle, and with them we salute the men of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
          "St. Patrick's Day"
          "Norah Creina"
     (continue "Barrosa" and fade for closing announcement)

ANNOUNCER: The programme you have just heard was by the Drums and Pipes of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

     (bring up "Barrosa" and fade to end)



Above is a fantastic photo of the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the time of the Amalgamation into the Royal Irish Rangers. Here we see they are still wearing the Fusilier's pipers uniform but most have begun using the three droned Highland Pipe.
Thanks to my friend Bill for this great picture. Bill is the very young looking lad in the middle.

Faugh a Ballagh