Irish and British army bands unite in harmony

‘A musical echo’ to joint military co-operation in West Africa

The Irish Army No 1 Band (in black) and the Band of the King’s Division (red)  played together at the British ambassador’s annual summer party at his residence in Dublin last night.

The Irish Army No 1 Band (in black) and the Band of the King’s Division (red) played together at the British ambassador’s annual summer party at his residence in Dublin last night.

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 01:01


It would have seemed impossible in previous decades but last night members of a British army band and the Irish Army No 1 Band came together to perform at a garden party in the British ambassador’s residence in Dublin.

Ambassador Dominick Chilcott said it was a historic occasion and a sign of the strengthening ties between both countries. The Band of the King’s Division travelled to Ireland on Wednesday to rehearse with the Army No 1 Band at Cathal Brugha Barracks.


King’s Div
Known as the King’s Div, it is one of 23 regular British army bands. It provided nine musicians, while 17 came from the Army No 1 Band.

Army No 1 Band conductor Capt Fergal Carroll shared conducting duties with Capt James Marshall of the King’s Div band and said it was “a real joint effort”. The carefully-chosen playlist included everything from classical pieces to arrangements of songs such as Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual and Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Not surprisingly, there were no rebel songs or triumphalist anthems that might have caused a diplomatic incident.

Capt Carroll said: “When you are sitting beside a stranger who is playing the same instrument as you, you have to get on immediately because you are doing exactly the same job even though the accents are different.”

Capt Marshall said it was a momentous occasion for his band, which had never performed in Ireland before. “They’ve been playing very well indeed together. The wonderful thing about music is it’s an international language and we all speak the same when we sit down and play.”


Musical echo
Mr Chilcott said yesterday that they had been deliberately brought together as a “musical echo” of what is actually happening on the ground.

British and Irish soldiers are serving in a combined unit in the west African country of Mali as part of an EU mission to bring stability to the region.

“And by all accounts, this has been a terrific success and both sides have got an enormous amount out of it,” he said.

Some 1,300 attended the party in Sandyford last night, including business people, politicians, gardaí and members of the Irish Defence Forces and figures from the arts and entertainment world.