Eve of St Patrick's Day Dinner - London Irish Rifles

Saturday 16th March 2019

The London Regiment, part of the British Army Reserve, consists of five companies; Headquarters Company, London Scottish (A Company), the Queen's Regiment (B), City of London Fusiliers (C) and London Irish (D). The Tobacco Pipe Makers have enjoyed a long relationship with the London Regiment and specifically D Company, the London Irish Rifles.

This is the second occasion in our year that the Mistress and I have been invited by the Commanding Officer to a formal dinner at the barracks in Camberwell. These are easy invitations to accept, so warm is the welcome and hospitality and this occasion was to mark the Eve of St Patrick's Day. Too good to miss!

Set in the Officers' Mess, the processional party was lead in by a musician playing the bagpipes and we found ourselves to be amongst the honoured guests on the top table. I was seated between the CO of the London Irish Rifles, Major Robert (Bob) Brown, and the CO of the London Regiment, Colonel Geoffrey Strickland and in prime position to survey the richly fitted Mess hall with its walls adorned with the portraits of the many CO's and valiant figures in the Company's illustrious past. The room was packed with officers of many ranks including two Brigadiers and a large number of guests.

Major Bob Brown lead the evenings proceedings which included speeches, awards, farewells to departing members and the ceremonial playing of the bagpipes followed by a traditional toast. With the formalities over, the party retired to the bar for Guinness and an opportunity to mix freely with the Company and guests. Much talk of the military parades scheduled for St Patrick's Day itself then fell away to the banter and jokes you would expect of such a gathering. For the Mistress and I, it was again a wonderful insight into an unfamiliar part of the life of this country, one that is positioned at the sharp end if duty calls. It was an evening not just of joy and celebration but one of appreciation and respect for the remarkable men and women of the Army Reserve and specifically the London Irish Rifles.