London Irish Rifles is formed

Monday, 5 December, 1859
London Irish
An Officer of the 1880s.

As a result of French operations in Italy and war against Austria in 1859, an invasion panic broke out in England. In 1859 a Royal Commission warned that England's coastal defences would be inadequate to protect against French invasion in the event of the Royal Navy being lured elswhere. As a result of this threat the Volunteer Movement started.

A group of Irish residents of London agreed to form 'The Corps of Irish Gentleman-at-Arms' and on 5 December 1859, held a public meeting with the Marquess of Donegall as chairman. Those present resolved unanimously 'that a Volunteer Rifle Corps be at once organised, under the title of the London Irish Rifle Volunteers; the qualification for membership being a connection with Ireland by birth, marriage or property, and that the Corps shall consist of effective and honorary members'.

The Volunteers were raised under a constitution separate and distinct from that of the Militia, but they too were part-time citizen soldiers. It was initially named the 28th Middlesex (London Irish) Rifle Volunteer Corps. The Regiment was run like a club with entrance fees and subscriptions. The Marquess of Donegall was the first Commandant.