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Historic ‘Laying up of Colours’ and parade planned to mark town’s ties to Royal Irish Regiment

Royal Irish Regiment on parade

A special event to mark Ballymena’s historic links to The Royal Irish Regiment will take place in the town next month.

A parade through the town centre featuring 300 current service personnel, veterans and cadets is planned, as well as free children’s entertainment, a civic service at St Patrick’s Church and a reception for The Regiment at The Braid.

The event marks the formal Laying up of old Colours from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment and will be the ceremonial showpiece, marking the Regiment’s strong ties with the area for more than 60 years, prior to the closure of St Patrick’s  Barracks.

Previously, the Regiment was bestowed the Freedom of the Borough, and several thousand spectators are expected to be in attendance for the parade in its honour on Saturday 2 September.

The Band of The Royal Irish Regiment, the Bugles, Pipes and Drums of both battalions, Campbell College Pipes and Drums and the Regimental Mascot will be on parade, which will also feature the Old and New Colours of the Regiments’ 1st Battalion, currently stationed in Shropshire.

Guards will be formed from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, the regimental associations and affiliated cadet battalions and detachments.

Guards from Regiment’s 1st and 2nd Battalions, as well as Cadets and Regimental Association veterans, will march with the colours on parade.

Royal Irish Regiment on parade

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said:

“Council is delighted to be supporting this momentous event in Ballymena which is fitting recognition of the Royal Irish Regiment and its antecedents, including the Royal Irish Rangers, and the Royal Ulster Rifles all which adopted St Patrick’s Barracks as their Regimental home and training depot.

“Ballymena is a town steeped in military history and tradition, and this is an opportunity to show support for our brave service personnel and to thank them for all that they do. Just this summer we hosted a superb Armed Forces Day event in Larne, and I’ve no doubt the Laying up of Colours will be another hugely successful event in our Borough.”


Major Steve Maguire, Parade Commander, said:

“Laying up of Colours is a significant event for the Regiment. It marks the legacy of the battalion and honours those who have served under them. 


“Bringing the Colours to rest in Ballymena, the home of the Royal Ulster Rifles and Royal Irish Rangers, adds significance and offers us a chance to say thank you to those who support us and the Regimental family.


“We have had the Freedom of the Borough since 1994 and laying up the Colours here is one way of marking the trust and respect between the modern Regiment and the local people. 


“Some of those on parade will have recently returned from operations in Mali and training in Kenya, as well as marching through London for the Coronation of King Charles. The soldiers on parade are drawn from across Northern Ireland and the Republic and are united by service in the Regiment. We will never forget the deeply personal links we have to our home turf.”

The parade will begin at 11am, with the Colours laid up in St Patrick’s Church afterwards.

The event was postponed twice previously due to Covid, and Council along with its organising partners within the Royal Irish Regiment are excited that it is now set to proceed.

Royal Irish Regiment Laying Up of the Colours Event in Ballymena graphic.

Further information regarding the parade route and timings, family activities on the day, parking facilities and temporary parking restrictions within the town centre will be published on Council’s website shortly.

More details can be found at:


Infantry colours are among the most sacred symbols of the British Army. These flags embody the honour, spiritand heritage of the Regiment.


British infantry regiments usually have two colours, collectively called a stand. The King's or Queen’s Colour is typically a Union flag with the regiment's unique insignia in the centre. It reminds all ranks of their loyalty and duty to their sovereign. The Regimental Colour is a flag of a single colour. Both Colours are adorned with ancient devices and battle honours awarded to the Regiment and its antecedents.


The regimental motto on the Regimental Colour is Faugh a Ballagh’, a transliteration of the Irish (Gaeilge) battle cry, - Fág a’Bealach, meaning –

Clear the Way!


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