27th June 2016
To those of us who share in the 7th Cavalry Legend "Garryowen" is more than just a unit designation, its motto, a song of historic lore, and a greeting shared amongst ourselves.
For us it is has been a very special way to say many things. In combat it was used to respond to the sound of a chambered round that preceded "Who goes there?" nearing a perimeter and it meant "friend". At meeting and at departure from a 7th Cavalry friend, it means 'great to see you' and 'stay safe'. In a veteran's time, it still means all of these same things but it is intoned with the unspoken words of 'I love you my friend, as I do my own brother'.

        "Garryowen, Limerick, Ireland"

   " Garryowen" is an old Irish quick-step that can now be traced back to the early 1680,s. In 1867, Garryowen was adopted by the 7th Cavalry Regiment as the official Air (tune) of the Regiment, and the historical nickname given to the 7th Cavalry Regiment and troopers. It became the Official tune of the 1st Cavalry Division in 1981. Garryowen has become undoubtedly the most famous of all the regimental marches in the Army.

      The geographical area that provided the inspiration and the name of one of the most popular, rollicking folk songs of Ireland, is situated near the City of Limerick and located a half mile southeast of King John's Castle, on the upward slope of a hill at the end of Garryowen Road in Limerick County.

      Local traditions and folk lore have preserved the historical significance of the area and the origin of its name "Garryowen", a compound English word composed of two Irish words, Garrai (the Irish word for Garden) and Eoin (the Irish word for the name John, referencing King John's Castle - a local landmark at the bottom of the hill). The Irish name Eoin, pronounced as "O-in" or "Oh-en", was later phonically transformed to "Owen" in the English language, thus allowing the two separate Irish words "Garrai" and "Eoin" to be translated into the single compound English word, written without a capital "O", as Garryowen.

      "Garryowen Pipe and Drum Band 1967"

      These new diversions were encouraged by a number of young people having a greater supply of animal spirits than wisdom to control themselves. The young gentlemen being fond of wit, amused themselves by having parties at night to wring the heads off all the geese, and tearing knockers off the doors in the neighborhood. They sometimes suffered their genius to soar as high as the breaking of a street lamp, and even resorting to the physical violence of a watchman. But, this type of joking was found a little too serious to be repeated very frequently, for few achievements of so daring a violence were documented in the records. They were obliged to content themselves with less ambitious distinction of destroying the door knockers and store-locks, annoying the peace of the neighborhood, with long continued assaults on the front doors, terrifying the quiet onlookers with every species of insult and provocation, and indulging their fratricidal propensities against all the geese in Garryowen.

      The fame of the 'Garryowen Boys' soon spread far and wide. Their deeds were celebrated by some inglorious minstrel of the day in that melody which has, since, resounded over the world; and even symbolically competed for national popularity with 'St. Patrick's Day'. A string of verses were appended to the tune which soon enjoyed equal notoriety. The name of Garryowen was as well known as that of the city of Limerick, itself, and Owen's garden became almost a synonym for Ireland. View Regimental Tartan & Hear the Garryowen Bagpipes: 3D SQUADRON PIPE & DRUM BAND

      "Garryowen" is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song. As the story goes, one of the Irish "melting pot" troopers of the 7th Cavalry, under the influence of "spirits", was singing the song. By chance Custer heard the melody, liked the cadence, and soon began to hum the tune himself. The tune has a lively beat, that accentuates the cadence of marching horses, and for that reason was adopted as the regimental song soon after Custer arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas to take over command of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. It was the last song played for Custer's men as they left General Terry's column at the Powder River and rode into history.

During ceremonies the song is not sung; however, it is customary for the song to be played at the conclusion of the activities and the guests stand and clap to the cadence of the march.

Lyrics of the song are as follows:


Irish Version

7th Cavalry Regiment Version 1905

[Verse 1]

Let Bacchus's sons be not dismayed,
but join with me each jovial blade,
come booze and sing and lend your aid,
to help me with the chorus:


Instead of spa we'll drink down ale
and pay the reckoning on the nail,
for debt no man shall go to jail
from Garry Owen in glory

[Verse 2]

We are the boys who take delight
in smashing Limerick lamps at night,
and through the street like sportsters fight,
tearing all before us (Chorus)

[Verse 3]

We'll break windows, we'll break doors,
the watch knock down by threes and fours,
then let the doctors work their cures,
and tinker up our bruises (Chorus)

[Verse 4]

We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
we'll make the mayor and sheriffs run,
we are the boys no man dare dun,
if he regards a whole skin (Chorus)

[Verse 5]

Our hearts so stout have got us fame,
for soon 'tis known from whence we came,
where're we go they dread the name,
of Garry Owen in glory (Chorus)

[Verse 1]

We are the pride of the Army
and a regiment of great renown,
Our Name's on the pages of History.
From sixty-six on down.
If you think we stop or falter
While into the fray we're going
Just watch the steps with our heads erect,
While our band plays Garryowen. (Chorus)


In the Fighting Seventh's the place for me,
Its the cream of all the Cavalry;
No other regiment ever can claim
Its pride, honor, glory and undying fame.

[Verse 2]

We know fear when stern duty
Calls us far away from home,
Our country's flag shall safely o'er us wave,
No matter where we roam.
" Tis the gallant 7th Cavalry
It matters not where we are going"
Such you'll surely say as we march away;
And our band plays Garryowen. (Chorus)

[Verse 3]

Then hurrah for our brave commanders!
Who led us into the fight.
We'll do or die in our country's cause,
And battle for the right.
And when the war is o'er,
And to our home we're goin
Just watch your step, with our heads erect,
When our band plays Garryowen. (Chorus)

"From Custer to MacArthur, the 7th U.S. Cavalry"
Edward L. Daily:

Author's Note: An Historical Listing of units that have used and are using the Garryowen Tune.

5th Royal Irish Lancers 1689 - 1799 [ Ireland ]

The origin of the tune "Garryowen" is now believed to have originated by the 5th Royal Irish Lancers who trace their origin back to 1689 when a cavalry formation known as Wynne's Regiment of Enniskillen Dragoons was formed by the then governor James Wynne.

Following many glorious and famous accomplishments, in 1799 rumours began that several United Irishmen, sympathetic to the rebels cause had infiltrated the regiment and had begun a plot to kill the officers.

This "fifth column" was also reported to have infiltrated many other Irish regiments at that time too, but in the case of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons just three men, within the ranks, were found to be sympathetic to the Irish rebels.

The British high command and especially the King did not take a light view of this so called treachery, and as a result the regiment was sent to Chatham, England in 1799 and a short while later on direct orders from the King, on 10 April 1799, one of the oldest and most respected regiments in the British Army was disbanded.

The punishement meted out to the regiment was by any standards harsh to say the least. It was at this time that many former dragoons emigrated to various parts of the world. Notably America and France to ply their trade as expeeienced andhighly skilled cavalrymen.

The rousing drinking song, "Garryowen" was brought to the United States by ex-members of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons who emmigrated and later served in great numbers with the, then new, 7th Cavalry. Testimony to this is fact that the famous U.S. 7th Cavalry adopted the song "Garryowen" as their own.

"Garryowen", Gaelic for Owen's Garden, is a pub near Limerick, Ireland, which was the favourite haunt of troopers from the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons.

Even the late Mrs. George A. Custer, widow of General Custer, had remarked that she had heard her husband hum and whistle the piece a short time after the regiment was organised at Ft. Riley. Lt. Col. (Capt.)

Myles Keogh, was in some way connected with introducing the song to the regiment. Captain Keogh's father had been an officer in the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons, and the birth place of Captain Keogh, was Orchard, County Carlow, Ireland.

The lyrics to "Garryowen", handed down and sung by the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry, were first known to appear in published form in a 1923 Cavalry Journal.

The Royal Irish Regiment 1684 - 1922 [ Ireland ]

   "Garryowen" was also the Regimental March of another famous fighting unit, The Royal Irish Regiment, that was organized in 1684 from Irish Pikemen and Musketeers by the Earl of Granard to fight for King William. This regiment has seen service in all parts of the world.

For their outstanding valor at the Battle of Namur, they received the title of "The Royal Regiment of Foot of Ireland".

In addition, in recognition of its deeds on this occasion, King William conferred the right of displaying the badge of the Harp and Crown, and that of the Lion of Nassau, with the explanatory legend. The Royal Irish showed noble courage and performed gallant service throughout the Crimean War.

On their colors are inscribed "Egypt"; "China"; "Blenheim"; "Ramillies"; "Oudenarde"; "Malpaquet"; "Pegu"; "Savastopol"; "New Zealand"; "Afghanistan, 1879-80"; "Egypt, 1882"; "Tel-el-Kebir"; "Nile, 1884-85"; "South Africa, 1900-02"; "Flanders, 1914" and "Gallipoli, 1915." The Royal Irish Regiment was disbanded in 1922 on the formation of the Irish Free State.

69th New York Infantry 1851 [U.S.A.]

The history of the 69th New York Infantry reflects the history and progress of the Irish in America. From unwelcome immigrants escaping famine and persecution, they were assimilated and integrated into the society of America. Its ranks were filled with heroes, priests, poets, politicians, laborers, lawyers, in short a cross section of the Ireland's greatest export - her sons.

The "Fighting Sixty-ninth" had its origin in early 1851, when the Irish citizens in New York City formed a militia regiment known locally as the Second Regiment of Irish Volunteers. Unanimously, the group selected "Garryowen" as their official regimental marching song.

On 12 October 1851, the Regiment was officially accepted as part of the New York Militia and designated as the Sixty-Ninth Regiment. In 1858, the Regiment would have its first call to duty. Their many subsequent calls to duty included the Civil War, Spanish American War, Punitive Expedition, World War I and World War II. Today, the 69th is now officially the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry (Mechanized), and is part of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), NYARNG (New York Army National Guard).

1st Cavalry Division 1921 [U.S.A.]

"Garryowen" is an old Irish quick-step that can be traced back to the early 1860's. In 1867, "Garryowen" was adopted by the 7th Cavalry Regiment as the official Air (tune) of the Regiment, and the historical nickname given to the 7th Cavalry Regiment and Troopers. It became the Official tune of the 1st Cavalry Division in 1981. "Garryowen" has become undoubtedly the most famous of all the regimental marches in the U.S. Army.

2nd Cavalry Regiment 1965 ~ Australian Army

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment is a regiment of the Australian Army and is the second most senior in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. The regiment serves in the armored reconnaissance role.

The regiment was formed in 1965 as 1st Cavalry Regiment through the regimentation of regular squadrons in CMF regiments:

When first formed, the regiment consisted of a reconnaissance squadron and an armoured personnel carrier squadron. This continued until 1976, when the Royal Australian Regiment took on a mechanised role, leaving 2nd Cavalry Regiment to concentrate on the reconnaissance role. By 1996 C squadron was raised. All three squadrons were equipped with the M113 vehicle in the reconnaissance role until the mid 1990s, with the Regiment being re-equipped with the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) between 1995 and 1997.

Since being re-equipped with the ASLAV the 2nd Cavalry Regiment has played a key role in Australian military operations. In 1999 C Squadron deployed to East Timor as part of the initial Australian contribution to INTERFET, with the ASLAVs providing the Australian force with the majority of its mobility and armoured support during the early days of the intervention. Detachments from the Regiment supported all subsequent Australian troop deployments to East Timor.

More recently, 2nd Cavalry Regiment has deployed its ASLAVs to Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. The Regiment's initial role was to provide armoured transport for Australian diplomats and military personnel based in Baghdad and northern Iraq. The Regiment has also formed a key element of the Al Muthanna Task Group rotations, with the Regimental Headquarters commanding the initial rotation and a squadron from the Regiment forming part of the first two rotations of Task Group elements. The regiment has also contributed soldiers and vehicles of the Security Detachment in Baghdad and also to the Overwatch Battle Group (West) rotations.

The 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada

The 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces based in Sudbury, Ontario. The 1st Battalion was reduced to zero strength and placed on the Supplemental Order of Battle on 31 December 1964. The Regiment was originally founded in 1915 with headquarters in Toronto.