Irish Military Band Uniform

The Defence Forces School Music was established in 1923 and has had four changes of uniform during that time. The original dress uniform worn by Irish military bands was a sky-blue colour known as St. Patrick’s Blue. This made way for a darker navy colour which was in turn changed in the 1960’s to a bottle-green uniform. This new style uniform comprised a tunic and trousers, however instead of the traditional high collar, a white shirt and black tie was introduced. Neither the green colour nor the addition of shirt and tie was entirely successful and the uniform was eventually changed back to the traditional high collar navy uniform which was based on the model of the officers’ dress uniform of the 1930’s. The French style ‘shako’ cap was also reintroduced for use at State engagements. The new uniform was designed by Lt Col Brendan Power, the then Director of the Defence Forces School of Music and unveiled in early 2003 in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

There were many elements of reversion in this uniform which brought it back in line with the standard of uniforms worn by military bands across Europe. The officers had a black uniform with gold and red fittings, while the rest of the band members wore dark navy with red and silver fittings. The uniform included a white music pouch, for carrying sheet music and a navy belt with red trim for band members and a gold belt with red trim for the officers.

In 2011 this uniform was updated and the colour of the parade tunic, concert dress and great coat for band members changed to black, thus regularising the colour across all ranks. The trim for band members remained in silver with red fittings and lanyard, with the officers’ uniform retaining the previous gold and red fittings and gold lanyard. An underslung ceremonial sword with steel scabbard was also added finishing off the officers’ parade dress uniform. This new pattern uniform was unveiled during the state visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in June 2011.