The tradition of the Escort of Honour dates back to the 18th September 1931 when Defence Forces Regulation 62 made provision for a Mounted Escort.
The Mounted Escorts first public appearance on duty was during the 31st International Eucharistic Congress in June 1932. The personnel were drawn mainly from the Artillery Corps and for training were under the control of the Officer Commanding the School of Equitation.
In March 1939, wearing the same uniforms, a new unit, An Shluagh, was organised to provide amongst other services, escort duties. Their blue uniforms gave them the popular title “The Blue Hussars”, a title that had no official standing.
Again the bulk of the escort came from the Field Artillery as that unit had the largest body of horse soldiers. The Mounted Escort (Blue Hussars) continued until 1949 when their duties were taken over by the motorcycle escorts of the Cavalry Corps.
The unit chosen to take over the Escort of Honour from the Blue Hussars was the 4th Motor Squadron, stationed in Plunkett Barracks, the Curragh Camp.In 1955 due to the unit’s central location in Dublin, the 2nd Motor Squadron, now 2nd Cavalry Squadron was instructed to take over responsibility for the Escort of Honour. 2nd Motor Squadron carried out a number of Lieutenant’s escorts in late 1955 but the first full Presidential (Captain’s) Escort was on the 1st of May 1956 for President Sean T. O’Kelly, commanded by Captain J Foley.
On the 25th of June 1959 2nd Motor Squadron escorted Eamonn de Valera to his inauguration as the third President of Ireland and they have been present at every inauguration since.
Down through the years 2 Cavalry Squadron have escorted many notable international leaders. In June 1961 the Unit was on duty for the visit of Prince Rainer and Princess Grace of Monaco. This was a particularly busy visit for the Unit as Prince and Princess had two very different itineraries; as a result the Escort was split in two in order to accommodate both.
50 years on and 2 Cavalry Squadron reacquainted themselves with this particular royal family on the visit of Prince Albert of Monaco in April.
1963 saw the arrival of President John F Kennedy for what would prove to be a very emotional homecoming. So impressed was the President by the performance of his escort that on the conclusion of his visit he insisted on shaking the hand of every member and presented each man with a tie-pin as a show of gratitude.
The Escort of Honour have also escorted US Presidents Reagan and Clinton.
Bikes and Uniforms
The uniform worn by the escort is the culmination of eight years of work designing and developing a suitable uniform for Escort of Honour duties.
The uniform, which made its first public appearance on St Patrick’s Day 2010, is in keeping with the best traditions of the Escort of Honour and echoes the uniform worn by the Blue Hussars in all but colour.
The enlisted uniform includes the black, red and green of the Cavalry Corps in the form of the lanyard worn on the right shoulder. The Cavalry Corps colours are seen again on the pennants of the enlisted ranks bikes.
The officer leading the escort displays the national colours of the dignitary escorted while the escort commander and rear troop commander display the units crest.
The escort motorbike is the Honda Deauville 700cc. This model came into service with the escort in 2008 and is the second Honda Deauville model to serve in this role.