top of page

Our Uniform

The Caubeen

The caubeen, pronounced kaub-'een, from the Irish cáibín meaning "little hat" is an Irish soldier's headdress. Taken from the traditional Irish peasants' headdress, it is worn very high on the off-side (usually the left), resembling a tilted rimless Balmoral bonnet. The caubeen is traditionally worn by members of the Irish Army, and pipers of the Irish Guards.


The first depiction of its wear is in a painting of Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill (Owen Roe O'Neill), chief of the Uí Néill (O'Neills) of Ulster. He was the leader of the Irish Confederate forces during the "Wars of the Three Kingdoms" period from his return from exile on the Continent in 1642 to his death in 1649. 

The AOH Pipes and Drums Caubeen is a military version, green in color worn with a shamrock insignia.



The Kilt

The kilt first appeared as the great kilt, a full length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over head as a cloak. The small kilt or walking kilt, similar to the modern kilt, did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt.

Traditional Irish kilts were solid in color: Green, Blue, or Saffron.  Irish tartans, or plaids, are a more modern innovation.  Solid colored Irish kilts were adopted for use by the Irish Regiments, but they could often be seen in late 19th and early 20th century photos in Ireland especially at political and musical gatherings, as the kilt was adopted as a symbol of Gaelic nationalism in Ireland during this period.  

The spice Saffron was as expensive in ancient times as now.  Saffron dyed garments symbolized wealth, worn by ancient Irish royalty. More readily available dyes similar in color, such as mustard and henna, were commonly used by common Irish to color clothing. This proved to be confusing to early foreign, primarily British, invaders in determining who was “in charge” as everyone appeared to be royalty.

The AOH Pipes and Drums kilt is saffron in color.


band pic st patricks nwp_edited.jpg
IRISH SAFFRON KILT_edited_edited.jpg

The Bracht

A garment that has often been mistaken for the kilt in early depictions is the Irish 'Lein-croich', a long tunic traditionally made from solid color cloth, with black, saffron and green being the most widely used colors. 

The saffron colored bracht worn by the AOH Pipes and Drums represents this tunic.



The Firbolg and the Crios

Fir Bolg , in Irish means Men of Bags. They were a nomadic race of near-giants that lived in ancient Ireland. Sometimes spelled as one word, Firbolg, a reference attributed to the pouches which they wore.

The AOH Pipes and Drums firbolg is leather and worn on the left side.


The Crios

The history of the crios goes back to the days of the Gaelic clan system
when it was worn by both men and women as part of the ancient costume
of the Irish people, wrapped around the long linen shirt, the Irish léine.

It served to keep the léine in place, but also to carry items like weapons, knives, harps, books and a bag or purse, a bosson or sporan.

The crios was worn by both men and women in Ireland until the 16th Century. Indeed it was around when the Gods walked the earth;
Cúchullain in his last stand, ties himself to a standing stone with his crios, as depicted in Oliver Sheppard's sculpture pictured. The enemy can only be sure he is dead when the Morrigan, a crow Goddess, perches on the
stone and pecks out his eye!

A British traveller in Ireland in the early 16th Century notes in his diary:The Irish wore enchanted girdles, persuaded that when they wore them they couldn't be hurt with any weapon.'

The distinctive crios survived in everyday use on the Aran Islands until recent times, where the men were the last to wear it in everyday life. To my knowledge there are only a handful of crios-weavers in the whole of Ireland today.





The sgian-dubh is worn as part of traditional Celtic dress. Originally it was a dagger that could be concealed under the armpit. Etiquette called for its removal from its place of concealment when entering as a guest  and displayed somewhere where his host could see it, usually in the stocking on the side of his dominant hand (right- or left-handed). It has  been adopted as an optional part of the band’s standard uniform and worn tucked into the top of the kilt hose with only the upper portion of the hilt visible.




SGIAN DUBH_edited.jpg


bottom of page