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Drum Corps Irish Guards

Like the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards also boast a distinctive national feature in their pipe band. Uniquely in the British Army, the Irish Guards ensemble is referred to as the 'Drums and Pipes,' rather than the 'Pipes and Drums.' (Since drums were carried by British soldiers before pipes, the drums are senior.) They were formed during the First World War, with the first two sets of Great Irish Warpipes being donated by John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster, whose son was serving with the regiment as an officer.

They were trained by the London Irish Rifles and adopted their pattern of uniform, including the practice of wearing the caubeen badge over the right eye. Unlike the regimental band, pipe bands are based at battalion level, and when additional battalions are raised for wartime service, pipe bands are also raised to accompany them.

For several decades, Irish Guards pipers carried the Great Irish Warpipes, essentially a two-drone version of the three-drone Great Highland Bagpipe. In 1968, however, with the forming of the North Irish Brigade into the Royal Irish Rangers, the Highland pipe was standardized throughout the British Army and has been used by the Irish Guards ever since.

Members of the regimental band are full-time musicians who, in the past, used to be trained for duty as medical assistants in wartime. Since the introduction of Clinical Governance regulations within the NHS, however, military musicians are deployed in a General Duties role.

Pipers and drummers have always been full-time soldiers who undertake their musical responsibilities on a part-time basis. This was underlined by the loss of two regimental pipers, Lance Corporals Ian Keith Malone and Christopher Muzvuru, during Operation Telic in Iraq.

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