The origins of lacrosse in Ireland lie with the establishment of the Ards Lacrosse Club in Newtownards, Co. Down (just outside Belfast) in 1872.
Four years later, William George Beers, the man credited with modernising and codifying the game in his native Canada, led a trip across the Atlantic that included members of the Montreal Lacrosse Club as well as a team of Kahnawake (Mohawk) players. The tour started in Belfast with a number of exhibition games by these teams before moving on to England where, amongst other games, the teams put on an exhibition for the Queen at Windsor Castle. A number of similar trips followed as the game developed further in Ireland, and an Irish Lacrosse Union was formed in 1879 to support this development and to manage the new Irish Men’s National Lacrosse Team.
In 1886, the Irish Lacrosse Union accepted one of many invitations to travel to Canada and the United States. This trip was lead by John Sinclair and Hugh C. Kelly (of Belfast and Ballymacarrett, Co. Down respectively), the latter of whom was captain of the Irish team at the time, a pioneer of the game in Ireland, and Deputy Sheriff of the County Down. The trip lasted nearly two months and included many games on the East coast of the USA and in Canada. In newspaper reports of this trip from across the Atlantic, it notes that there were upwards of thirteen club teams playing regularly in Ireland.
Men’s lacrosse flourished in Ireland at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th. In these years, two trophies were awarded for lacrosse in Ireland – the Irish Championship Flag and the Irish Challenge Shield – and these trophies still exist and are held in Newtownards, the erstwhile spiritual home of lacrosse in Ireland as the first town to have established a lacrosse club in 1872.
Women’s lacrosse emerged in Ireland in the 1920s. Richmond Lodge, which was an all-girls school in Belfast, began playing the game at least as early as 1922. On Monday, the 29th of November 1926, at 2.45pm, at Trinity Hall in Rathmines in Dublin, the (suitably named) Dublin Pioneers ladies lacrosse team held its first practice.
By the 1930s, the Dublin Pioneers and the Belfast Ladies Lacrosse Club (founded by the alumni of Richmond Lodge) were the only two senior women’s club lacrosse teams. However, they were joined by girls’ schools including Richmond Lodge in Belfast and Manor House School in Co. Armagh, and other schools based around the greater Dublin area – the French School in Bray (Co. Wicklow), the Hillcourt School in Glenageary (Co. Dublin), Alexandra College in Milltown (Dublin), the Hall School in Monkstown (Co. Dublin) and Glengara Park in Dun Laoghaire (Co. Dublin).
In 1930, the Irish Ladies Lacrosse Association was founded, as was the first ever Irish Women’s National Lacrosse Team which played its first competitive match in a tournament in April of that year at Merton Abbey (southwest London) which featured Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
Men’s lacrosse in Ireland emerged in 1872 and died out in the early 1900s, with women’s lacrosse then emerging in the 1920s and then subsequently dying out around 1970.
The Irish Men’s National Lacrosse Team was re-established to compete in the 2001 European Championships tournament in Penarth, Wales. The men’s senior team has continued to participate in major tournaments since that time. An Irish Men’s Box National Team was added in 2007 and an Irish Men’s Under-19 National Team was added in 2016, and an Irish Men’s 6s National Team is currently being formed.
In 2005, the Irish Women’s National Lacrosse Team was re-established and entered in the 2005 European Newcomers Tournament in Copenhagen, Denmark, finishing in 1st place, a remarkable feat. The women’s senior team has likewise continued to participate in major tournaments since that time. In 2019, an Irish Women’s Under-19 National Team was formed, and an Irish Women’s Box National Team, and Irish Women’s 6s National Team, are currently being formed.
By 2024, there will be eight national teams – four for women and four for me – operating under the auspices of Ireland Lacrosse.
In the 2009-2010 season the Irish Lacrosse League (ILL) was established. This league features men’s and women’s teams such as the Dublin Lacrosse Club, University College Dublin (UCD), University of Galway (UG), University College Cork (UCC) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), with new teams emerging in various parts of the country. A new women’s Schools Cup took place in March 2019 and, following the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2022, and in 2023 the objective is to also include men’s teams in the Schools Cup for the first time.
Ireland Lacrosse also operates the Éire programme, for men and women, and in all of the disciplines – field, box and sixes – and across multiple age levels. The Éire programme provides a platform to enable players who may not be eligible to play for the Irish national teams, but who wish to represent and connect with their Irish heritage by being part of the Ireland Lacrosse family. The Éire teams compete in multiple events and tournaments, including in Ireland, the UK, Europe, USA and elsewhere.
For more information on the History of Irish Lacrosse, check out this publication
by Ireland Lacrosse CEO Michael Kennedy (click image):
i am researching the life of GEORGE LOMAS BIRCH BRADSHAW, born 1882, who played lacrosse for All Ireland in around 1903 as well as studying at Queen’s University, for a memoir.
Any information on him and the matches he played in, photographs or anything else, or even the contact details of a historian or archivist who might be able to help would be extremely helpful.
Dr. Maya Slater
I have found some material that may relate to George Bradshaw. Feel free to email me at email@example.com for further details.
Hi Lacrosse Ireland – Not sure who wrote this, but tremendous! Great research. Best of luck – Tom Flynn
When will Ireland develop a women’s / girls indoor box lacrosse league?
Contact Sean Gibson, Indoor Lacrosse Development Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about indoor/box lacrosse.
Jennifer Armstrong (nee) Loose
So glad to see the resurgence of lacrosse in Ireland. I played at Richmond Lodge and then for Ireland for 3 years in the late 50’s
Wow – thanks for getting in contact with us Jennifer, we would love to hear more from you about your experience at Richmond Lodge! Will send you a private message!
My mother played Lacrosse for The French School
Would love to get connected! We just pm’d you.
Hi. We are relocating to Ireland this summer . Are there any clubs where a 14 y old girl could play.
Hi – just sent you a private message!
Hi I really want to start playing lacrosse anywhere for a 14 y o girl to play?
We just pm’d you!
Margaret Green Michaelides
Is there any history of Irish women’s lacrosse between 1961 and 1964? I played on the Irish team and it seems as though there is no knowledge of this.
Please contact Michael – MKennedy@irelandlacrosse.ie – he is working on getting a full history together!
I am wondering if anyone knows anything about Jebb Kerr, from Greystones, who played Lacrosse for Ireland (women’s team) probably in 1920s and 1930s?
Hi Julie – that name doesn’t ring any bells, but if you email email@example.com it may be possible to send you some photos of the Irish team from the 1920s and 1930s
Hi! I was born in Ireland in 2004, and not live in the United States. I love playing lacrosse and would love to get a chance to play with some Irish girls. Do you play any tournaments in the United States?
Hi, I was born in Ireland in 2004 and now live in the US, I have always wanted a chance to play with some other Irish girls! Do you play any tournaments in the United States?
There are tryouts for the Irish Under-19 team in New York on 3-5 August, further information is at http://main.irelandlacrosse.ie/2018/05/13/selection-process-for-the-2019-irish-womens-national-teams/
My mother Dorothy Dowie (nee Boyle in 1931) played lacrosse for Richmond Lodge, Belfast Ladies & Ireland. She is still with us and, doing a house clear-out, I have come across a pile of her memorabilia; besides photos and the odd match programme, she also has a handwritten book (a very well-written, detailed and comprehensive scrapbook) of Belfast Ladies from their inception through to 1938. It contains team photos (with names), match reports, newspaper cuttings etc etc. Many of the articles are of the Ireland team, as it involved Belfast Ladies players.
My mother can’t have joined Belfast ladies until the late forties, thus the book contains no mention of her, so how she ended up with it I have no idea… and nor does she!
Historical items such as this seem to be your thing – does this interest you?
We are very interested in this and have emailed you about it!
Hi there. I was just reading your history on the Irish women’s lacrosse team with my mother who played for Ireland from 1956-58. She was delighted to see the photo of the match against England from 1956 – as she is in the picture! She is 3rd from the right on the back row. Her name then was Averne Shirley and she remembers the captain was Clarissa Crawford. Is there any chance we could get a copy of the photo or any others from that period as she doesn’t have any. Her position was cover point or third man. She fondly remembers that the Irish Times declared that ‘she was prominent in the defence’! If at all possible she would love to know the names of the rest of the team. Could Caroline Beckett be one of them? Many thanks Medeni
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get it sorted!
It was also played at Ling Physical Education College, in Dublin.
My Mother in law (Patricia Lindsay Boyd) apparently played lacrosse for Southern Ireland around 1945/46. Sadly she is no longer with us. I would be very interested to learn if there might be a team photo somewhere. Thank you.
We received your message via email@example.com also and just responded!
My wife and I visited Ireland for the first time this summer. We fell in love with the land and the people. I coach lacrosse in Calgary (Canada) and will be making my way over to Langley BC (World Indoor Championships) in September to watch many of the games. I’ll for sure be cheering on Ireland as they compete. I’ll make some noise for the boys. Good luck Ireland.
I played Lacrosse at Ling Physical Education College, Upper Mount Street, Dublin 1966 – 1969, while training to become a PE Teacher.
Amazing! Did the College have a team (which played against teams from other schools), or was this just in PE? Do you have any photos?
John V Smyth
Where can I get a copy of the History. of Irish Lacrosse
Just emailed to you!
There’s no mention of Our Lady’s Terenure and Clermont, Rathnew playing lacrosse. It was discontinued in both schools about 1968, before I.went to.Our Lady’s. I also think.Manor House in Dublin played it too
That’s excellent to learn! Did the school have a proper team (which played against teams from other schools), or was this just in PE? If you have any photos or other documentation from the school, we would love to include it.
My son’s played competitively in clubs & school for years. He’s 17 & wondering about tryout requirements for the Irish team
my daughter was interested in assisting with teaching girls youth lacrosse. She has been playing since about 8yrs old, played varsity in HS and is playing at the varsity in the University she is attending. She was wondering if there is any openings and if there may be an interest in incorporating cultural exchange aspects into the program to enable a Fullbright Scholarship opportunity. Any/all ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Our National Team Eligibility can be found here: http://main.irelandlacrosse.ie/national-teams/national-team-vision/
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you further!