Regimental Mascots

Royal Irish Rangers now Royal Irish Regiment

The Royal Irish Rangers - a Territorial Army regiment - was formed on July 1st, 1968 from three former constituent regiments, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Ulster Rifles.

The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was raised in 1689 to fight in the Williamite Wars, at which time they were known as Tiffin's Inniskillings (taking that title from their first Colonel). In the following three centuries, its battalions fought wherever the British Army was sent. Tiffins Regiment became the 27th Foot at the time when the British Army began numbering Regiments. During the Napoleonic wars, it won special fame at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when the 27th Regiment was cut to ribbons and all officers killed or wounded, and the Regimental Sergeants had to take over. The original badge, which is of the Castle of Inniskilling flying the flag of the Cross of St. George, is still worn by the Royal Irish Rangers as their Collar Badge.

The Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Ulster Rifles were formed at the beginning of the Napoleonic wars when the British Army was expanded. This was in 1793 and the Regiments were despatched to many different locations as part of the British Forces. After the peace of 1815 the Regiments were sent to various parts of the British Empire to take part in the many campaigns that were an integral part of this period. In 1827 the 87th Regiment were granted the title "The Prince of Wales Own Irish Fusiliers", which was changed soon after to the "87th or Royal Irish Fusiliers".

1881 saw the Cardwell reforms of the British Army and during this period two of the Regiments, the 83rd and 86th, underwent a more fundamental change, in which they were first reformed as a "Rifle" regiment which required them to exchange their scarlet tunics for those of Rifle Green and to cease carrying their colours. This difference can be seen in the photographs below - with the scarlet of the Royal Irish Guard's tunic showing light, while the dark green of the Royal Irish Rangers' tunic shows up black. The headgear of the Regiment is the Caubeen, which is a traditional beret type cap in dark green with a bright green feather plume and is unique to Irish Regiments.

In 1970 an Irish wolfhound, named Brian Boru I, was presented as mascot by Major Hayes, the Commanding Officer of The Royal Irish Rangers on his retirement, and this hound was shown on several occasions, as was the then Irish Guards' mascot, which was Fionn. This first Royal Irish Rangers mascot was registered as Sanctuary Connaire Mor and was bred by the Misses Harrison & Atfield, by Sanctuary Knight of Kerry ex Sanctuary Monica, whelped December 30th 1969. The name Brian Boru was to be used for all the following mascots, with just the addition of a different Roman numeral with each succeeding hound.

 Irish Rangers & Irish Guards with mascot
 Irish Ranger and Irish Guard, each with mascot,
at the LKA/Club Show, 1972
Irish Guards & Royal Irish Rangers with mascots 
 Irish Guard and Royal Irish Ranger, each with mascot.
Venue and date unknown

The "Britains" range of toy soldiers had a collection of the Irish Rangers which included a model of the Irish Wolfhound mascot. This set has now been discontinued.

 Royal Irish Rangers set
The Britains Royal Irish Rangers set 
 On the March

In 1992 The UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) was amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers and renamed the Royal Irish Regiment. The Royal Irish Regiment was unique in the British Army. It consisted of one General Service battalion, liable for service world wide, three Home Service battalions for service within Northern Ireland, and one Territorial Army battalion.

 Royal Irish Regiment with mascot
 Postcard in the Regimental Mascots of the British Army series:
Brian Boru V - Mascot of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment
 Brian Boru VIII
 Brian Boru VII, now retired
 [Thanks to Julie Hughes for these pictures of Brian Boru VII]
Brian Boru VIII and companion 
 Brian Boru VII and his companion, Lucky
The following was in the BBC News, 6th October 2006 
 The Queen attended the parade which marked the disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment's home service battalions.
Some 300 soldiers drawn from the Royal Irish Regiment's home
service battalions paraded at the Balmoral Showgrounds in Belfast.
The three home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment will be disbanded next July.
The parade was led by regimental mascot Brian Boru VIII, an Irish Wolfhound.
The Queen awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to the regiment in recognition of
36 years' continuous service in Northern Ireland.
October Parade 
 The following appeared in the Daily Mail, October 14th 2008 :-

One soldier and his dog lead homecoming parade as
Irish Guards march through their home town

 (N.B. It was not the Irish Guards but the Royal Irish Regiment)
They led a crowd of 300 of Britain's bravest and best,
but today all eyes were on one man and his dog.
In solidarity with the homecoming soldiers of The Royal Irish Regiment,
their mascot was dressed in his own canine version of desert camouflage.
Irish wolfhound Brian Boru VIII trotted ahead as the 1st Battalion
- based in Tern Hill, Shropshire - paraded through the streets
of nearby Market Drayton with bugles, pipes and drums playing.  
Daily Mail 
 Welcome home: A soldier and Irish wolfhound Brian Boru VIII
led the parade as Irish Guards marched through their
hometown in Market Drayton, Shropshire
 The battalion has just completed a six-month tour of duty in
Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Their commanding officer,
Lieutenant Colonel Freely, said:
'This parade is an opportunity for us to say thank you
to the residents of the town for their continued support.
'Our arduous tasks in Afghanistan are so much easier to bear
in the knowledge of such strong support in our home county.'
The Mayor of Market Drayton, Councillor Rob Bentley,
said: 'I am very proud to invite the Royal Irish Regiment
'to parade through the streets of Market Drayton.
'The Regiment is to be based here for a number of years to come
and we are keen to promote good relations between the unit and the local community.'
 Daily Mail
 For the complete article see

On November 1st, 2008 the following article appeared on News Letter (

Thousands turn out for Royal Irish in Larne

 Published Date: 01 November 2008
HOPES are growing that Belfast homecoming parade will pass off peacefully
after a second successful Royal Irish parade in Larne.
On Saturday afternoon thousands lined the streets of Larne to cheer
the Royal Irish Regiment through the town after the regiment
was awarded the freedom of the borough by the council.
The parade was delayed by a security alert, but the crowds waited patiently
for about an hour until the all-clear had been given and the parade got under way.
Among the thousands lining the town's streets stood families with children
perched high on their father's shoulders, veterans with medals proudly
pinned to their chests and elderly waiting in wheelchairs.
The parade consisted of about 200 soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalions,
along with retired Royal Irish veterans and Army cadets.
Filling the road, they marched forward in utterly straight columns
behind the vast Irish wolfhound mascot and regimental band.
 marching through Larne
 leading the parade
 For the complete article, click here
 On Sunday, November 2nd the BBC website showed this picture of the Royal Irish Regiment and two wolfhound mascots
 parade through Dublin
 the full article can be seen at
 Sadly, on December 18th, 2010, Merlin, as Brian Boru VIII was known, died from a heart problem. He is greatly missed, as he was not just an exemplary mascot for the Regiment but also visited schools and hospitals and was indeed an inspirational wolfhound.
 St. Patricks Day Parade 2010
  Members of the Royal Irish Regiment parading at Tern Hill Barracks during their St Patrick's Day parade in 2010
(from the Shropshire Star website -
In January, 2011 the Shropshire Star ran an update on the Regiment's search for a replacement mascot for Merlin -  
 On Sunday, March 13th, 2011 the Shropshire Star ran a further update on the replacement mascot as the Regiment took on a new puppy to become Brian Boru IX, otherwise known as Finn - - and here he is:-
mascot's coat 
 Royal Irish Regiment post 2006 Regimental Mascot (Irish Wolfhound) coat / shabraque..
A rare example of green woollen cloth, edged with lines of gold lace.
The hide quarters are mounted with a silver bullion regimental device set on the
colours of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross ribbon.
Simulated leather strap attachments.
. Formed 1st July 1992 from Royal Irish Rangers (1st Bn) and Ulster Defence Regiment (2nd Bn).
Regiment uniquely awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by HM Queen Elizabeth in 2006

The Royal Irish Regiment home page can be found at

This little model - it stands 2¼ inches high - is dated 2002, by Martin Tabony, and is of the Royal Irish Rangers' mascot with handler.

Royal Irish Rangers mascot and handler 
and this is the Langley Models' version: 
 handler and mascot 
N.Irish TS Museum 
  Northern Irish Toy Soldier Museum's Royal Irish Ranger's
mascot, Brian Boru, and handler
Designed by Martin Tabony
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Updated 2/27/2014