Nick Waters visited the Irish Guards to find out more about the regiment's long tradition of Irish Wolfhound mascots. In particular he got to know the Guards' current mascot, Malachy. Very sadly, Malachy died shortly after this article was written.

Kennel Gazette, December 1994

The Luck of the Irish

 Malachy in Fermanagh
 Malachy and the First Battalion in Fermanagh
[Photo courtesy of SOLDIER]

The image many people have of the Irish Guards is of a diminutive drummer boy accompanied by a large Irish Wolfhound mascot. That image still holds good today, although whether Drummer Marty Flanagan would look quite so diminutive without his constant soulmate Malachy the mascot is another matter. My guess is he would not, for Malachy seemed by far the largest Irish Wolfhound I have ever seen.

The history of the regiment's mascot is one involving the longest association any regiment has had with one single breed of dog. Formed in 1900, in 1902 the Irish Guards were presented with their first Irish Wolfhound - a dog called Rajah of Kidnal whom they rechristened Brian Boru; who was known as Paddy - it all sounds very Irish!

 Rajah of Kidnal
 Brian Boru the first Wolfhound associated
with the Regiment

Malachy is the regiment's 10th Irish Wolfhound. The first nine have all been painted and their portraits, some pictured with their handlers, hang down the stairway in the Officers' Mess. Malachy and Drummer Flanagan are soon to join their ranks. The first three were all painted by Heywood Hardy, the highly regarded animal and sporting artist.

In 1924, mascot Cruachan of Ifold, the fourth mascot, won the Height Cup at the Irish Wolfhound Show. In return, the regiment presented the Irish Guards Shield which is given to the Best Opposite Sex at the annual show.

In the mid 1960s, the late Florence Nagle became concerned that the regimental mascot should always be a worthy specimen of the breed. As a result the Irish Wolfhound Club undertook to select a suitable animal and present it to the regiment and Fionn (Samando Silver) was the first so chosen. At the same time, the Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding was invited to become President of the Irish Wolfhound Club. The first to hold this office was William Harvey-Kelly.


It was not until 1961 that true mascot status was duly authorised by the War Office for the Irish Guards' Wolfhound. From then on the mascot became entitled to travel at public expense, to the facilities and service of the Royal Army Veterinary Corp without payment, payment of any quarantine charges and to attend ceremonial occasions. Food was not included!

Both the eighth and ninth mascots, Cormac and Connor, were presented by Miss Margaret Harrison of the famous Sanctuary kennel. Cormac had his first parade on St. Patrick's day 1978, when he was presented with his shamrock by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Connor was welcomed into the regiment on the 17 January 1985 by the Queen Mother at Clarence House.

Malachy succeeded Connor in 1992. He was bred by Dagmar Kenis of the Solstrand kennel, but was given to Miss Harrison unregistered so that he could carry her prefix, since she had taken such an interest in the mascot over so many years. He is registered Malachy of Sanctuary and has the official army number 00010D.

 Malachy and Drummer Flanagan
 Drummer Flanagan and Malachy in uniform
[Photo Marc Henrie]

Malachy's father is Ch. Foinaven Narcos, sire of the 1992 Best in Show winner at the Irish Wolfhound Society Show and his mother is Oelmeuhle Amely of Solstrand, virtually unshown but a litter sister to three overseas Champions. His litter brother won his class at Bournemouth show this year and a brother in Germany is not far from his title.

 Malalchy and Drummer Gavin Coats
 Malachy with his previous handler, Drummer Gavin Coats
[Photo Marc Henrie]

Unlike some of the previous mascots, Malachy is very playful and will play for hours with the tiny terrier belonging to the regiment's second in command. He was not always so outgoing; one of his earliest dislikes being the big bass drum - a bit of a problem when you are serving with the Drums and Pipes! However, with patience and perseverance he has overcome this dislike, unless he is taken off guard with it suddenly banging in his ear.

His early training consisted of marching to music, a lot of standing, a lot of attention and generally gaining confidence.

Whent the Guards did a spell of duty in Northern Ireland, Malachy went along and served six months with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in Fermanagh, where he accompanied foot patrols. As with all military personnel serving in Northern Ireland, he was awarded his General Service Medal. Unlike most, though, he had his own personal helicopter to fly him there and back.

His first handler was Drummer Gavin Coats from Bangor and his first parade was the Passing Out Parade of the Guards Depot. His present handler, Drummer Marty Flanagan, who is 20, was a side drummer in a pipe band in his native Ireland. His only previous experience with dogs was with one he 'adopted' from a local landowner when he was nine. Before joining the Guards he had wanted to work with search dogs.


An average day for Malachy when the Guards are on Guard Duty will start with a leisurely walk around the camp about 8.00 a.m. This will be followed by roll call in front of the Barracks, with Malachy standing to attention until he has been counted. Soon after 9.00 a.m. he will go to Wellington Barracks and from there march at the head of the Band to Buckingham Palace and back to the Guards Barracks with the Corps of Drums.

They arrive back at about 12.30 p.m. and for Malachy it is time for a well-earned feed of his favourite Eukanuba and then to sleep.

When the Battalion are on Windsor Guard Mount, Malachy will lead them through the town to the Castle.

In summer, he wears a red tunic and in winter a grey one. His State dress, like that of the Battalion, is worn only on State occasions - Royal birthdays and similar important days - and for Malachy his State dress is his silver collar.

For travelling he has his own four-wheel drive long wheel base Land Rover, complete with bed and veterinary equipment.

When he is not on guard duty there is still plenty to do. In Northern Ireland he did a recruiting tour and visited the mentally handicapped in schools. There are also school visits when in London, a lot of public relations work, visits to the Chelsea Pensioners, taking part in fashion shows, work with film crews and photographers - there were no less than five photographers on the last St. Patrick's Day. He has taken part in the Royal Tournament and for exercise he visits Battersea Park, where he meets up with, among others, another Irish wolfhound. There is even time for Marty Flanagan and Malachy to do a little posing in the King's Road.

 Malachy on parade
 Malachy leading the Guards on parade
[Photo Marc Henrie]

He has total freedom of the Barracks, except the cook house - one rule even he, at times, finds difficult to keep.

There are times when he has to be spruced up with a good bath and brush-up - the impossible task of getting him into a regulation size bath was once attempted. Failure brought the indignity of being tied to a stake and hosed down and shampooed outside.

Everyone has their embarassing moments and for Malachy (not to mention Drummers Coats and Flanagan) it has been the occasional call of nature whilst he has been on parade - and once while marching up the Mall! Marty Flanagan thinks of Malachy as his 'normal pet' and, like all pets, he does not always do what one would wish. He will sometimes run off after another dog and want to play, rather than come back. Once, at Windsor, all dressed up and ready to go, a drum beat took him off-guard and he was off and most unwilling to be caught.

Not all other dogs are regarded as his friends and, perhaps because he considers the Barracks his territory, he would quite happily take on the police guard dogs. I am told he never barks but has an impressive repertoire of growls.

When Drummer Flanagan visits his girlfriend in Whitechapel, Malachy often goes too and, like all good London residents, he is quite happy to travel on the Tube. One Sunday he happened to sit next to a girl reading an article about him in one of the colour supplements. As with all stars, when he is out and about people are never quite sure if he really IS the Irish Guards' mascot, or a dog that looks very like him - this young lady was equally confused.

Drummer Flanagan hopes to stay with Malachy until he retires but, in the meantime, Malachy lives the life of a serving soldier and shares a room with Coats and Flanagan, with his own bed and section of the room. He also has his own pin-ups. For the two Drummers it is their family and girlfriends; for Malachy it is two drawings of himself done by Marty's girlfriend, Sian, and pictures of other dogs that help him through the night.

 Malachy relaxes
 Malachy relaxes in the room he shares with
Drummers Coats and Flanagan
[Photo Marc Henrie]

The KENNEL GAZETTE, The Journal of the Kennel Club
December 1994 Volume CXV No. 1376

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