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Royal Ulster Rifles (formerly Royal Irish Rifles)
Regimental Crest
Active 1793 - 1968
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Role now defunct
Size 1 Regular battalion at disbandment (16 during Great War)
Garrison/HQ RHQ - Ballymena
Nickname The Rifles
Motto Quis Separabit (Who shall separate us) (Latin)
March Quick - The Ulster Rifles march "Off.' said the Stranger"

Slow -

Mascot Irish Wolfhound
Anniversaries Barrossa Day, 5th March; Somme Day, 1st July
Engagements Badajoz, Jhansi, Somme, Korea
Tartan Saffron (pipes)

The Royal Ulster Rifles (formerly Royal Irish Rifles) was an Irish infantry regiment of the British Army. It saw service in the Second Boer War, Great War and the Second World War, before being amalgamated into the Royal Irish Rangers in 1968.



Monument to Royal Irish Rifles in grounds of Belfast City Hall

The regiment's history dates backs to the reign of King George III. In 1793 the British army expanded to meet the commitments of the war with the French First Republic. As part of that expansion it raised two new Regiments of Foot, the 83rd and the 86th. At the same time the counties Antrim, Down and Louth Regiments of Militia were raised.

In 1881, under the Childers Reforms, the 83rd and 86th were amalgamated into a single regiment, named the Royal Irish Rifles. It was one of eight Irish regiments raised and garrisoned in Ireland and was the county regiment of Antrim, Down and Louth, with its garrison depot located at Belfast. Militarily, the whole of Ireland was administered as a separate command within the United Kingdom with Command Headquarters at Parkgate (Phoenix Park) Dublin, directly under the War Office in London[1].

World War I

The Royal Irish Rifles was connected with the British 36th (Ulster) Division and 16th (Irish) Division during the Great War. The unionist militias, the Ulster Volunteers and Young Citizens Volunteers had amalgamated with the 36th whilst the nationalist National Volunteers had joined the 16th after the outbreak of the Great War.

In 1921, following the proclamation of the Irish Free State, the Royal Irish Rifles was renamed the Royal Ulster Rifles, with the regimental district of Louth ceded to the newly independent state [2].

World War 2

The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles was part of the British Expeditionary Force and took part in the Battle of Dunkirk [3].

Victoria Cross

Recipients of the Victoria Cross:

Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I.


In 1947, it was grouped with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Irish Fusiliers into the North Irish Brigade. A year later, the regiment formed a pipe band, wearing saffron kilts and carrying the Great Irish Warpipes.

In 1968, under reforms of the army, the Royal Ulster Rifles was amalgamated with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Fusiliers to form The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th).

See also

Great War Memorials

Reading reference

  • James W. Taylor The 1st Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War Four Courts Press (2002) ISBN 1-85182-702-1
  • James W. Taylor The 2nd Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War Four Courts Press (2005) ISBN 1-85182-952-0

External links


  1. ^ H.E.D. Harris The Irish Regiments in the First World War (1968) pp. 2-3
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 20 August 2007.  
  3. ^


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