Afghanistan Homecoming Parade, Belfast.

Sun, 11/02/2008

Herrick HomecomingOver the weekend 31 October - 2 November 2008 the towns and boroughs of Northern Ireland hosted a series of parades to mark the return of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the The Royal Irish Regiment from Operation HERRICK 8. This was the Regiment's second substantial contribution to the Afghanistan campaign, but the first in which the Regiment deployed as a lead battlegroup.

St Patrick's Barracks in Ballymena was home to the Regiment and its antecedents for 70 years and on the evening of 31 October, some 8,000 people lined the streets of the town, the first to welcome the Regiment home from the battlefields of Helmand Province. The following day Larne conferred the Freedom of the Borough upon the Regiment. The Colours were paraded through the town before more than 15,000 people while the Band, Bugles, Pipes and Drums played 'Musa Qa'leh', a musical work commissioned by the Borough to commemorate the occasion.

On Sunday 2 November, in Belfast, an estimated 50,000 people lined the streets as a guard of the Royal Irish Regiment, along with contingents from the Irish Guards and all three Services, marched through the city centre streets which were decked with blue flags emblazoned with the Royal Irish Regiment Crest and the Regimental motto, 'Faugh a Ballagh'. The Regiment's contingent marched along Wellington Place and Chichester Street where the cheers were so loud that they drowned out the Bugles, Pipes and Drums.