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Fitting tribute to rich tradition of the mighty 'Micks' as Irish Guards join GAA ranks

By Richard Doherty

Published 16/09/2015

Stationed in west London, the Irish Guards will field a team in London GAA County Board competitions - now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

Irish soldiers have played Gaelic games without the approval of the GAA in the past, but this new departure is a practical death knell to Rule 21.

It's probably appropriate that the Irish Guards should be the first British Army team recognised by the GAA.

Raised at the behest of Queen Victoria in 1900 to mark the courage and service of the Irish infantry in the Boer War, the 'Micks', as they are known, represent the long tradition of Britain's Irish soldiers.

Since then they've created their own rich history and regimental tradition - and produced some outstanding soldiers.

None could exceed Alex, Field Marshal the Earl Alexander of Tunis and Errigal, from Caledon.

In the Great War, Alex rose from platoon to battalion commander, even commanding a brigade for a short time, and received the Distinguished Service Order, the Military Cross, the French Legion d'Honneur and several Mentions in Despatches.

During the Second World War he rose to field marshal, commanded army groups in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and finished as Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean.

His genius for diplomacy served him in good stead working with a broad coalition in Italy.

Not for nothing is he known as the 'greatest Mick of them all'.

A great admirer of Alex, and another with superb diplomatic skills, the late Sir John Gorman served in the 2nd Irish Guards in the Second World War, earning the Military Cross on his first day in action in Normandy in 1944.

Many will remember the funeral of Corporal Ian Malone of 1st Irish Guards in April 2003.

Killed in Basra during the invasion of Iraq, Corporal Malone was buried in his native Dublin.

The church was packed for his Requiem Mass and the pallbearers were his fellow Micks, in full dress uniform.

Pipers of the Irish Guards and the Irish Defence Forces - Ian had served in the local defence force - played laments as the cortège moved to his grave.

To this richness of tradition, older even than the regiment, the Micks now bring a new element, as the Gardaí Eireannach, the Gaelic name that will appear on their jerseys together with the Star of St Patrick.

Belfast Telegraph

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