Part of the Game: The First Fifty Years of Women’s Football in Ireland and the International Context

  • Helge Faller


Women’s football in Ireland started in 1895 when the British Ladies’ Football Club (BLFC) visited Belfast for the first time and was followed by a tour the next year, which included some matches labelled ‘Ireland vs. England’. After two decades of silence, World War I saw the restart of women’s football, thanks to Mrs Walter Scott, and this time it was played seriously. Right from the start, the focus was not only on local exhibition matches but also on international selective matches. On Boxing Day in 1917, women’s football history was written, with the first international match of two selected teams in Belfast. After the war, Ireland became part of the international women’s football boom, played several international matches and had close ties to the French Federation. After some years of decline, the 1930s saw the most flourishing years in Irish women’s football before World War II, culminating in the first Irish full international in France, against France, in 1936. After the war, Irish women’s football was back on the international scene again. In this piece, I will show that Ireland—like France, Belgium, Austria and England—was one of the key international players in women’s football history up to the early 1950s. As soon as serious football was played by women, starting in World War I, the Irish ladies were part of the international movement and played international selective matches. This distinguished them from other nations in the 20s and 30s, where women’s football was seen as a show-act and not as a serious sport.

Keywords: Women’s sports history, Women’s football, Irish women’s football, Interwar period, International sports, Belfast

How to Cite:

Faller, H., (2021) “Part of the Game: The First Fifty Years of Women’s Football in Ireland and the International Context”, Studies in Arts and Humanities 7(1), 58-84. doi:

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Published on
03 Jun 2021
Peer Reviewed