Wearing of the Green on St. Patrick’s Day in wartime Northern Ireland

During the Second World War, the tradition of presenting the shamrock and the wearing of the green among Irish regiments of the British Army continued.

On 19th February 1900, a 14-year-old Bugler of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers stood before Queen Victoria. James Dunne had sustained wounds during the Anglo-Boer wars. Soon after, Queen Victoria reinstated the forbidden 'Wearing of the Green' among Irish Regiments and even visited Ireland herself to pay tribute to the soldiers.

On 14th March 1900, the following instruction was issued:

Her Majesty the Queen is pleased to order that in future on Saint Patrick’s Day all ranks in Her Majesty’s Irish regiments shall wear as a distinction a sprig of shamrock in their head-dress to commemorate the gallantry of Her Irish soldiers during the recent battles in South Africa.

This lead to the founding of The Countess of Limerick’s Shamrock League in 1901, when the shamrock was worn as a mark of remembrance among the Irish regiments.

To this day, the Irish regiments continue to receive springs of shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day and they are worn with pride.


On 17th March 1940, General Sir Charles Harrington presented the shamrock to a Battalion of the London Irish Rifles before taking the salute.


Presentation of the St. Patrick's Day Shamrock to members of a Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Ballykinlar, Co. Down.


Presentation of the St. Patrick's Day Shamrock by Brigadier P.H. Hansen V.C. to members of 31st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles, U.S. Army Officers of Irish descent, and members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service at Dunmore Park, Belfast.


Presentation of the St. Patrick's Day Shamrock by Mrs. Heard, wife of Lieutenant Colonel R.A. Heard M.C., Commandant of 25th Initial Training Centre to soldiers at St. Lucia Barracks, Omagh, Co. Tyrone


Although far from home, an Irish Battalion enjoyed a tot of rum and some time away from the front lines at Anzio, Italy on 17th March 1944.


The Royal Irish