Military Ceremonial Guard

A Ceremonial Military Guard will parade at the site of the 'National Memorial to Members of the Defence Forces who died in the Service of the State’, Merrion Square, Dublin during July and August.

Ceremonies will take place at Merrion Square Park, Dublin, every Saturday from 16th July to Saturday 20th August 2016. Units from throughout the Defence Forces and across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service will participate in this Military Guard Ceremony in solemn remembrance of their fallen comrades. The ceremony will last approximately one hour. 

The National Memorial was unveiled by President Mary McAleese in November 2008 and is the National Memorial to members of the Defence Forces who died in the service of the State. It is a place of contemplation and remembrance, where families, relatives and members of the public can reflect on the sacrifice these soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen have made for this State.

The pyramid shape of the memorial, which was designed by Brian King, captures references to burial and is a standing testament to the dead. Within the pyramid, four bronze figures, representing all elements of the Defence Forces, stand guard over the eternal flame that emanates from the badge of the Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann. The flame burns in perpetual memory of those members of the Defence Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the State.

Outline of the Parade

During this ceremony two bugle calls will be heard - ‘Last Post’ followed by the raising of the National Flag in turn followed by ‘Reveille’. These two calls are customarily used within the Irish Defence Forces during commemoration ceremonies, wreath laying ceremonies and military funerals.

The Guard Parades

The ceremony begins with a lone Piper playing at the Memorial site. The Piper, when finished, will salute and take his position on the inner path. The Lieutenant will march the Guard from Government Buildings to the Memorial. The Guard will take its position on the outer path. The Guard will be ‘Dressed-off’. The Guard will render honours to the National Flag. The National Flag will be then lowered to half mast.

The Guard Takes Post

The Lieutenant will march the Inner Guard to the Memorial and the Outer Guard will take post at either side of the gate. These ‘Sentinels’ will be posted and will adopt the position ‘Rest on Arms Reversed’. This posture is a mark of respect to all members of the Defence Forces who died in the service of the State.

Laying of Wreaths

Unit Commanders will lay wreaths. Members of the Public may also take this opportunity to lay wreaths or tributes. Once all wreaths are laid the Piper will play a Lament.

Patrolling the Beat

The Lieutenant will instruct the Sergeant to carry on. The remaining four personnel, ‘the Outer Guard’, will patrol a beat on the footpath outside the gates. One Sentry will stand guard either side of the gate, whilst the remaining two will turn out and march the beat out in slow time, left and right of the gateway. On reaching the extremity of the beat the Soldiers will about turn and slow-march back to the gate. At this stage all four Soldiers and the Platoon Sergeant will ‘Change Arms from the Slope’. They will then turn out, march the beat and repeat.

Rotation of Duties

When the Outer Guard has completed the required number of beats, the Inner and Outer Guard will rotate roles. This will be done on the orders of the Platoon Sergeant. The Outer Guard will march in from the outer footpath and take positions adjacent to the Inner Guard. The Inner Guard will be brought to the ‘Slope Arms’ position and marched out to conduct the beat duty. The new Inner Guard will take posts and adopt the ‘Rest on Arms Reversed’ posture.

Changing of the Guard Ceremony

The Lieutenant in charge of the Old Guard marches to a position in front of the Memorial. The New Guard moves to a position on the outer path facing the Old Guard. Once the New Guard has dressed off, the Old Guard will ‘Present Arms’ to the New Guard. The New Guard will return the compliment to the Old Guard. The Lieutenant in charge of the New Guard marches the new Inner Guard to the Memorial. The Old Guard will take up position on the outer path. Then both Lieutenants exchange compliments before the Old Guard is marched away. The Lieutenant of the New Guard gives the order to take posts. The members of the New Guard take their positions. The Lieutenant orders the Sergeant to take over. The Sergeant takes over and New Guard patrols the beat.

The Guard Withdraws

When the required number of beats is complete, the Lieutenant will take his position and withdraw the Inner Guard. The Section will again parade on the footpath outside the gate of the Memorial. The Guard will be brought to the position of ‘Rest on Arms Reversed’ for the final time. A Minute of Silence will then be observed. This will be announced by the Unit Sergeant Major. A drum beat will signal the end of the Minute of Silence and Last Post will be sounded. The Guard will adopt the ‘Carry Arms’ position and the National Flag will be hoisted to full-mast. The Guard will ‘Present Arms’ and Reveille will be played. Once Reveille is complete the Ceremony is over. The Guard will ‘Slope Arms’, turn left and withdraw to Government Buildings.

Last Post and Reveille

During this ceremony two bugle calls will be heard - ‘Last Post’ followed by the raising of the National Flag in turn followed by ‘Reveille’. These two calls are customarily used within the Irish Defence Forces during commemoration ceremonies, wreath laying ceremonies and military funerals. The symbolism of these two calls within this context becomes clear when one examines their historical use. The ‘Last Post’ call was traditionally used to signal the end of a tour of inspection of a military garrison at the end of a day by the duty officer. ‘Last Post’ was also used to signal the end of battle to those wounded in the field. The call, ‘Reveille’ is traditionally used to wake up military personnel at the start of the day. The name comes from ‘réveillé’, the French for ‘wake up’ and so represents a new beginning.

Participating Units

The Ceremony will commence each day at 1200hrs. Units from throughout the Defence Forces will participate in this Ceremony over the months of July and August as follows:

Date/Time Unit/Station
July 2016 @ 1200hrs*

Saturday 16th  

2 Artillery Regiment, Custume Barracks, Athlone and 28th Infantry Battalion, Finner Camp, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Saturday 23rd

1 Artillery Regiment, Collins Barracks, Cork and Naval Service, Haulbowline, Cork

Saturday 30th
*Time: 09:30hrs
12th Infantry Battalion, Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick and 1st  Infantry Battalion, Dún uí Mhaoilíosa, Galway
August 2016 @ 1200hrs
Saturday 6th 6th Infantry Battalion, Custume Barracks, Athlone and 27th Infantry Battalion, Aiken Barracks, Dundalk.

Saturday 13th

3rd Infantry Battalion, Stephen Barracks, Kilkenny, and 1 Mech Armoured Cavlary Sqdn, Plunkett Barracks, Defence Forces Training Centre

Saturday 20th

7th Infantry Battalion, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin and Air Corps, Casement Aerodrome

View the Ceremonial Brochure


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Read More about the National Memorial

The Badge Design

The Badge design (common to all Corps and Services and all orders of dress) is derived from the badge of the Irish Volunteers and was designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill, Chairman of the National Executive of the Irish Volunteers. This badge was originally adopted by the Irish Volunteers in October 1914. [Read more]