December 22 – The TA officer and MP mostly responsible for Caubeens. Roll of Honour

Jack Macnamara, an MP and London Irish officer who was killed on this day in 1944, was largely responsible for the wearing of the caubeen by the London Irish Rifles in 1937. It was later adopted by the Skins and Faughs, and the rest. Portrait is of Bala Bredin. QUB graduate and Medical Officer James Ferguson died in 1917. He was one of four brothers from a Randalstown Manse to serve. William Tweed from Ballymoney was lost in 1941 when the Royal Navy Escort Carrier HMS Audacity was sunk by U-boat. Today’s veteran is Surgeon Commander George Stephenson who between 1920 and 1930 was capped 42 times for Ireland which he captained 13 times.

1 Comment

  1. The London Irish Rifles were ‘affiliated’ to the Royal Irish Rifles and retained that affiliation when the Rifles were renamed in 1921. However, in 1937 the London Irish became part of the Corps of The Royal Ulster Rifles as a TA battalion. Thus the Rifles became the only one of the three Irish line regiments with a TA battalion. That increased to two TA battalions when 2nd Bn London Irish was raised in 1939. The full title of the LIR was London Irish Rifles Royal Ulster Rifles.

    The word ‘caubeen’ doesn’t mean ‘old hat’ in Irish, even though the OED now includes that inaccurate definition. Caubeen, or caibin, means ‘small cape’ as it derives from the Irish caba or cape. The Irish for ‘old hat’ is ‘sean hata’. However, a modern Irish dictionary translates caibin as ‘old hat’, a case of the editors following popular misconception; translating ‘old hat’ from English using the same dicitonary produces ‘sean hata’.

    A full account of the origins of the caubeen is to be found in ‘The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society’, Volume 71. No. 281 (August 2020), pages 42-50. A shorter account may be found in the 2020 edition of ‘The Inniskillinger’.


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