Defence Forces Pipe Bands
Prior to the establishment of a Piping School at the Curragh in January 1926 pipe bands existed on an ad-hoc basis. Following the publication in a January 1926 edition of An t-Óglach (the Army newspaper) of an advertisement seeking recruits, bands were formed progressively.
By 1929 five bands were established in the following units:
- 7 Infantry Battalion at Portobello Barracks (now Cathal Brugha Barracks), Dublin
- 5 Infantry Battalion at Collins Barracks, Dublin
- The Curragh Training Camp, Co. Kildare,
- 12th Infantry Battalion at Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick
- 2 Infantry Battalion at Custume Barracks, Athlone
Personnel of pipe bands performed their musical role in addition to their primary military duties as riflemen and bands took part in routine military parades and local civilian events. On occasion they featured at major ceremonial events in Dublin. A performance at a Military Tattoo held in the grounds of the Royal Dublin Society in 1945 established the bands’ place in Army Music.
Service abroad with Infantry Battalions as part of United Missions became a regular feature from the 1960’s onwards. Bands serving in the Congo, Cyprus and Lebanon played an important role in maintaining morale. Thus the skirl of the Irish pipes was heard in places as far apart as Stanleyville, Elizabethville, Manono, Famagusta, Larnaca and Tibnin.
The FCA (Army Reserve) also fielded pipe bands - that of ‘B’ Coy, 10 Infantry Battalion (New Ross, Co Wexford) being the most successful.
Currently each of the nine Permanent Defence Force infantry battalions has a pipe band on its establishment. The Air Corps also has a thriving band. The bands continue to play an important part on ceremonial and sporting occasions and are probably best known to Irish audiences due to their performances in connection with the Royal Dublin Society’s Horse Show each year.