'Living gift' of music to mark RIR freedom honour

A PREVIEW performance was held on Sunday of a piece of music specially commissioned by Larne Council to mark the forthcoming presentation of the freedom of the borough to the Royal Irish Regiment.

Representatives of the council attended a rehearsal of the RIR band at Kinnegar TA base in Holywood, Co Down at which they were treated to a preview performance of the new march music Musa Qaleh.

The piece of music will be performed in public for the first time when the regiment receives the freedom of Larne on November 1.

The Mayor of Larne, Councillor Bobby McKee said he was very impressed by the music.

He said: "We are delighted with the success of this piece of music composed by Chris Attrill the regiment's band master. He has exceeded all our expectations with this uplifting and memorable march music and the skill and talent of the players does great credit to his work.

"Our decision to commission music rather than the traditional gift of silver for these occasions was arrived at when we concluded that a piece of music would be a living gift that could be continually enjoyed not just by the regiment but also the community during public performances when the regiment is welcomed into Larne for the freedom of the borough ceremony, followed by a parade through the streets of Larne town on November 1,

"The name of the music Musa Qaleh is taken from the name of the town situated in northern Helmand Province, Afghanistan where in the summer of 2006 it became the scene of some of the fiercest attack on the troops from the Royal Irish in Afghanistan.

"The Royal Irish contribution to the successful completion of the mission in Musa Qaleh came at a cost. Approximately 25 per cent of the Irish soldiers were wounded with three members of Easy Company killed in action. The Afghan police and army based in Musa Qaleh also suffered numerous casualties and some fatalities fighting alongside their allies."

The freedom ceremony will take place in Larne Council chamber at Smiley Buildings, after which there will be an inspection and parade of troops in public.

The parade will be made up of four guards - the first representing the 1st battalion, the second the 2nd battalion and the third will be a combined guard of old comrades. The fourth will be made up of cadets.

They will be led by the regimental band with bugles, pipes and drums and headed by the Brian Boru, the Irish wolfhound which is the regimental mascot. The men of the first and second guards will be in full battle dress with weaponry.

The parade will make its way down Agnew Street and along Larne Main Street, where there will be a saluting ceremony taken by Colonel of the regiment, Lt Gen (retired) Sir Philip Trousdell KBE CB, the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Northern Ireland.