Irish Guards Receive Freedom of Ards and North Down
In recognition of receiving the Freedom of the Borough from Ards and North Down Borough Council, the Irish Guards held a parade and drumhead service at Conway Square, Newtownards, on Saturday 25 June.
It is the first time that a council in Northern Ireland has bestowed its highest honour on the Irish Guards.
The event was attended by Brigadier Alex Turner DSO, members of the Council and officiated by the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas.
It 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.
The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said:
“I am delighted the Irish Guards have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough. The award has been made in appreciation of the exceptional contribution and courage of the regiment. It is the highest honour a Council can bestow on an individual or an organisation. It is an ancient privilege, dating back to the 1600s, and is now an honorary title reserved for those the Council deems to have given eminent service.
“The Irish Guards have a long and honourable association with our Borough. The regiment recruits from across the island of Ireland and many hundreds from Ards and North Down have been proud to serve over the years. By bestowing this honour, we publicly recorded our thanks and recognised the outstanding work the regiment delivers.”
The parade was led by the Irish Guards’ Mascot, Turlough Mór, who is known as Seamus to his colleagues. It consisted 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.
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 that a Borough Council can bestow and is rarely conferred.