Not so many years ago, the sound of military bands practising on the parade square at St. Patrick’s Barracks was a common occurrence in Ballymena.
Once the training depot for the Royal Ulster Rifles, then the Royal Irish Rangers and latterly the Royal Irish Regiment, St. Patrick’s Barracks was closed in 2007 as defence cuts were implemented.
The loss of the home training depot for the Irish regiments was sorely felt in Ballymena itself where the local community had built up a strong relationship with the military but the severing of the local trainig ties was also a bitter blow to communites throughout Northern Ireland.
Over the years, the square at St. Patrick’s had witnessed thousands of soldiers from across the whole of Ireland and further afield receive their induction into the arts of drill and, of course, was the scene of scores of ‘passing out’ parades.
One of the great links between the local community at the Regiment was the ‘Beating The Retreat’ ceremony at which the hugely popular band with bugles, pipes and drums were the star attraction.
We are proud to present this footage of one such ceremony, filmed by local camera and video enthusiast Sammy McCaig.