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Poetry of the Irish Guards
Edited and adapted by Bridget Haggerty

The Irish Guards were formed on 1st April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the bravery of the Irish people who fought in the Boer war.
On 21st April 1900, the first recruit, James O’Brien of Limerick, was enlisted and many followed as a free transfer was offered to all Irishmen serving not only in the Guards Brigade but also from the Line Regiments.

Originally nicknamed "Bob's Own" after Lord Roberts, the First Colonel of the Regiment, today they are affectionately and widely known as "The Micks". No other Regiment of Foot Guards has such a widely accepted nickname.

As might be expected, their mascot is an Irish Wolfhound; with its remarkable combination of power, swiftness and keen sight the breed has enjoyed a close association with the Irish Guards for more than a century.
Since "Brian Boru". the very first regimental mascot, thirteen Irish Wolfhounds have served with the Irish Guards during the past 102 years leading the Regiment on all parades.

The regiment played a major part in both World Wars, winning a total of six Victoria Crosses including the last to be presented in the Second World War. Since 1945, the guards have seen armed conflict in many parts of the world.

In honour of their Irish roots, every St. Patrick's Day, the regiment is presented with a shamrock by a member of the Royal Family. This dates back to 1901 when Princess Alexandra presented the Battalion with the shamrock for the first time. Again, it was Queen Victoria who decreed that Irish Regiments wear a sprig of shamrock in the head dress on 17 March in recognition of their bravery during the Boer War.

Here are two of the poems that are taught to the Irish Guard recruit as part of his Regimental history.

The Micks
By R. Flynn

Have you ever met the Micks me lads, when wandering round the town,
They are the crowd of Irishmen, whose fame is renown.
There's Alexander, Mungo Park and Michael Vernon too,
But these names I state to you me lads, are merely just a few.

Now once you join the Irish Guards, then you're a Mick for life,
They'll stand by you, through thick and thin, through every kind of strife.
And should you ever be in a fight, with your back against the door,
Just holler 'UP THE MICKS' me lads, for that's their call for war.

They've been in many battles, and you'll find they always win,
For you'll never meet a Mick me lads, who says 'Well I'll give in'
They'll do or die, they're trained that way, they think the life is grand,
And heaven help old England, if they all came to Ireland.

Each one of you went through the mill, your life was made real hard,
But every single one of you, became an Irish Guard.
Those days are gone 'tis sad to say, but memories fondly cling,
And the Devil who chased the most of you, was known as Pokey Flynn.

The pride he took in his uniform, they still speak of today,
And if your cap peak was a fraction out, my god, there was hell to pay,
I'll make a Mick of you me lad, or die in the attempt,
There's many often wished he would, tho' it really was not meant.

As time goes by, old Micks pass on, but their names are ne'er forgot,
For they helped to rewrite history, tho' it may not be a lot,
And as Peter greets them at the gates, with a smile upon his lips,
The Angels all in chorus sing welcome 'UP THE MICKS'

Lt John Kipling was the son of the famous writer and poet Rudyard Kipling. He went missing in action at Loos in 1915 and his grave was not identified until 1992. Below is a poem written by his Father about the Irish Guards.

The Irish Guards
by Rudyard Kipling

We're not so old in the Army list,
But we're not so young at our trade,
For we had the honour at Fontenoy,
Of meeting the Guards' Brigade.
'Twas Lally, Dillon, Buckley, Clare,
And Lee that led us then,
And after a hundred and seventy years,
We're fighting for France again.

Old Days! The wild geese are flighting
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish there's bound to be fighting,
And when there's no fighting, it's Ireland no more
Ireland no more!

The fashion's all for khaki now,
But once through France we went
Full-dressed in scarlet Army cloth,
The English-left at Ghent.
They're fighting on our side to-day
But, before they changed their clothes,
The half of Europe knew our fame,
As all of Ireland knows!

Old Days! The wild geese are flying
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish there's memory undying,
And when we forget, it is Ireland no more
Ireland no more!

From Barry Wood to Gouzeaucourt,
From Boyne to Pilkem Ridge,
The ancient days come back no more
Than water under the bridge.
But the bridge it stands and the water runs
As red as yesterday,
And the Irish move to the sound of the guns
Like salmon to the sea.

Old Days! The wild geese are ranging,
Head to the storm as they faced it before!
For where there are Irish their hearts are unchanging,
And when they are changed, it is Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

We're not so old in the Army list but,
But we're not so new in the ring.
For we carried our packs with Marshal Saxe
When Louis was our King.
But Douglas Haig's our marshal now,
And we're King George's men
After One hundred and seventy years
We're fighting for France again.

Ah, France! And did we stand by you
Then life was made splendid with gifts, and rewards?
Ah, France! And will we deny you
In the hour of your agony, Mother of Swords?

Old Days! The wild geese are flighting,
Head to the storm as they faced it before,
For where there are Irish, there's loving and fighting,
And when we stop either, It's Ireland no more!
Ireland no more!

Content Resources: Irish Guards


Thu, Jul 9, 2015
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No matter who does the collecting, the works stand on their own but this is an excellent compilation and well worth adding to your library.
Click here for Yeats.

1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Amazon states this is out of stock. They still have used copies for almost nothing (except shipping - chuckle). If you would like a new edition, it was available at Powell's. We can't promise it's still there. Click here for Powell's 1000 Years.
Click here for used at Amazon.


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