Defence Forces Ceremonial

Beal na Blath Ceremony 2012

The Defence Forces participates in various national ceremonies throughout the year.  Each service within the Defence Forces has a designated role to play during these ceremonies. Depending on the ceremony the Defence Forces involvement may consist of Guards of Honour, Gun Salutes and Musical recitals .

Defence Forces Participation

The Defence Forces participate in the State ceremonial connected with:

  • Presidential Inaugurations
  • Presidential State Visits Abroad
  • State Visits to Ireland by Heads of State
  • Presentation of Credentials by Ambassadors
  • Official visits to Ireland by Heads of Government
  • 1916 Commemoration Ceremonies, GPO/Arbour Hill
  • State Funerals
  • Gun Salutes by Foreign Ships-of-War
  • National Day of commemoration ceremonies
  • Easter Parade
  • National Famine Commemoration

Guards of Honour

Guards of Honour are deployed to render personal honours to persons of rank or position who are entitled to a Guard of Honour, on arrival at, or departure from , a location. All Guards of Honour are strictly reserved for state or military ceremonies, or for a ceremony of a distinctive national character. There are different variations of Guards of Honours depending on the ceremony:

Captains Guard of Honour 

This guard of honour is made up 3 Officers- 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Company Sergeant, 3 Sergeants and 100 other ranks made up of Corporals and Privates

Captains Tri-Service Guard of Honour

This guard of honour is made up 3 Officers- 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Company Sergeant, 3 Sergeants and 99 other ranks made up of Corporals and Privates from the three services of the Defence Forces.

Lieutenants Guard of Honour

This guard of honour is made up 2 Lieutenants, 1 Company Sergeant, 3 Sergeants and 50 other ranks made up of Corporals and Privates.

Cadet Guard of Honour

This guard of honour is made up 2 Lieutenants and 50 Cadets

There are also Courtesy Guards of honour of the same types but with reduced numbers of personnel participating.

Escorts of Honour

A Cavalry Motor Cycle Escort of Honour is normally provided on ceremonial occassion, to add dignity to the occassion by the general bearing, turn out and dressing of the escort and to ensure that the pace of the escorted vehicle is such that it will arrive at the designated location at the correct time

An Escort of Honour consists of a formation of mounted troops and a trumpeter(3).

Captain's Escort of Honour

A Captain's Escort of Honour is composed of 3 Officers - 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants , 24 other ranks of NCO and/or troopers and 2 buglers.

Lieutenant's Escort of Honour

A Lieutenant's Escort of Honour is composed of 1 Lieutenant , 16 other ranks of NCO and/or troopers and 1 bugler.

Read more about the History of the Escort of Honour

Gun Salutes

Military Honours in the form of Gun Salutes will consist of twenty-one guns, except in the case of a gun salute to the Blessed Sacrament, when a salute of 50 guns will be fired.

A Field Artillery Battery firing a gun salute is composed of 6 guns. Military Gun Salutes are rendered on the following ocassions:

  • Presidential Inauguration
  • The visit, other than a private visit, of a Head of Foreign State, when entering and leaving the State.
  • Saluting the Most Blessed Sacrament
  • In return of a gun salute fired by a foreign ship-of-war
  • Military Funerals for a General Officer or a Military member of the Council of Defence, on authorisation of the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support)

Read about the History of Gun Salutes

State Visit of Queen Elizabeth II

As part of our country’s protocol in marking the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Defence Forces had over 500 military personnel participating in a variety of ceremonial parades.

Read more about the Involvement of the Defence Forces

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]