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Wolfhound mascot's shiny new coat

By David Wilcock

The ceremonial red coat presented by President Higgins to the canine mascot of the Irish Guards returned a gesture of friendship made by the regiment more than 40 years ago.

On St Patrick's Day in 1973 the British unit gave a similar coat to the mascot of the Fifth Battalion of the Irish Army, which also has an Irish wolfhound as a mascot.

The Irish President marked his State visit by giving a vibrant red coat to Domhnall of Shantamon, a 20-month-old wolfhound, and his handler Drummer David Steed at Windsor Castle.

Captain Steve McMichael, the recruiting officer of the Irish Guards, said it was important for the mascot to always be impeccably dressed on parade, like the soldiers of the unit.

He said: "When he turns up everyone makes a fuss out of him."

He added: "He has done a few parades for the Queen and Prince of Wales and for the Duke of Cambridge, who is the regiment's Colonel."

Domhnall is pronounced 'Donal' and means 'world leader' in Irish.

He is the 16th mascot of the regiment, which has traditionally been an Irish wolfhound since 1902. He was presented to the Irish Guards in Dublin by the Irish Wolfhound Club in October 2012.

He and the regimental band represented the Irish Guards, which recruits soldiers from both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The first battalion is based in Aldershot, Hampshire, but is currently on UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus.

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