Freedom of the Borough - The Irish Guards

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour that a Council can bestow and is an expression of the high esteem in which recipients are held by the Council and the people of the area.

The Council is delighted and proud that this year the Freedom of the Borough will be awarded to The Irish Guards. This award is in recognition of their exceptional service, dedication and courage. It reflects the high appreciation of the long, honourable and close association existing between Ards and North Down and the regiment.

The Irish Guards is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army and is part of the Guards Division. On this Platinum Jubilee year their Colonel, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, will present them with new colours which will be paraded for the first time at the Trooping the Colour ceremony in early June 2022.

To mark this auspicious occasion, the Council will host a Conferment Ceremony, which is to take place on Friday 24 June . This will be followed on Saturday 25 June, by a Parade and Service open to the public, which will take place in Newtownards. In addition, the Regimental Band of the Irish Guards will be performing a static musical display at the McKee Clock in Bangor on Friday 24 June from 1800hrs – 1845hrs. The Regimental Band will play an array of music, something for all ages to enjoy.

The parade on Saturday will be led by the Irish Guards’ Mascot, Turlough Mór, who is known as Seamus to his colleagues. It will consist of the Regimental Band of the Irish Guards as well as the Drums and Pipes of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, with approximately 130 personnel in total, including 76 band members. They will march from Castle Street to Conway Square** at 11am on Saturday. A drumhead service will take place in Conway Square before the Irish Guards’ return parade to Castle Street.

The Parade route has now been confirmed for Saturday:

Parade Route (11am): Castle Street - High Street – Conway Square

Parade Route ((After Drumhead Service): Conway Square – High Street – Mill Street – Gibson's Lane – Regent Street – Frances Street – Castle Place – High Street – South Street – Court Street – Old Cross Street – Castle Street 

This is only the second time the Freedom of the Borough has been awarded since Ards and North Down Borough Council was established in 2015, and only the 35th occasion since the first conferral in the area, 92 years ago in 1930.

We look forward to you joining us for this wonderful celebration in honour of The Irish Guards.

** Please note, the weekly Newtownards Market will not take place on Saturday 25 June due to the Drumhead Service taking place in Conway Square.

About Freedom of the Borough


The history of the ‘Freedom of the Borough’ stretches back centuries, to the 1600s when to become a ‘Freeman’ was often dependent on your circumstances of birth and conferred certain privileges. Freemen were often exempt from paying certain tolls or taxes and, under a Borough’s charter, were often the only members of a community entitled to stand for civic office.

By the late 19th century, a new law redefined the award as a purely honorary title. It remains the highest honour which a Borough Council can bestow and is rarely conferred.

Past Recipients

Borough of Bangor

4 March 1930 Sir Thomas Saulters Wilson JP
15 July 1954 Alderman Thomas Bailie
16 January 1957 Captain Th Rt Hon The Viscount Brookeborough of Colebrooke
26 April 1957 Alderman and Colonel Sir Cullum Welch
23 May 1968 Alderman Charles F Milligan
23 September 1972 Alderman Robert V Campbell

Borough of Newtownards

1 March 1948 Chevalier Alexander Dickson VMH
18 March 1952 The Most Honourable Dame Edith Helen Marchioness of Londonderry DBE LLD JP
5 November 1962 Alderman Isaac Baxter

Borough of Ards

17 August 1990 Robert Edmond Gaw
15 September 1990 The 102nd (Ulster) Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)
25 April 1992 The Ulster Defence Regiment
27 June 1992 The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th)
21 September 1996 The Royal British Legion (Northern Ireland)
7 October 2000 The Royal Ulster Constabulary
2 March 2001 Royal National Lifeboat Institution
March 2008 Northern Ireland Prison Service
June 2008 Royal Air Force
September 2012 James McBriar (former Councillor, Alderman and Mayor)

Borough of North Down

6 September 1973 Mr Frederick Tughan
14 May 1981 Alderman J F R Hamilton
14 May 1981 Robert D McConnell OBE
27 May 1982 RUC and RUC Reserve
8 September 1990 Ulster Defence Regiment
12 September 1996 Royal British Legion, Northern Ireland
18 September 1997 Alderman Desmond George Green
17 June 1999 Alderman Bruce Mulligan, BEM
25 September 2004 Royal Irish Regiment 27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and The Ulster Defence Regiment
22 October 2005 (The Officers and Crew of) HMS Bangor
29 June 2007 Northern Ireland Prison Service
18 September 2010 Royal National Lifeboat Institution
24 March 2012 Police Service of Northern Ireland
8 June 2013 591 (Antrim Artillery) Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers Volunteers on Behalf of the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland

Borough of Ards and North Down

1 September 2018 All Health and Social Care Staff serving throughout the Borough.