In 1893 Miss Margaret Lyttle started a Girls’ Club in Sandymount in Dublin where girls enjoyed drill, needlework, games and a little dancing.

Following on from her example other similar Clubs were formed in Dublin. During the years 1908/1909 these ‘girls’ clubs’ were given specific numbers which we still have to this day. These numbers do not always relate to the order in which that particular company was ‘formed’ as some companies disbanded and their number was given to another company and so on.

Recognition should also be made to three remarkable women who were instrumental in the growth of the Girls’ Brigade in Ireland. They were Miss Connie Hall who was the Girls’ Brigade Secretary as well as Captain of the 12th Co. St. Catherine’s. Also two sisters, Miss Millie Pemberton, Captain of the 4th Company St. Jude’s Parish and Miss Kathleen Pemberton who was Captain of the 5th Company Clontarf Presbyterian. These three ladies also served on Girls’ Brigade Executive Boards and were indeed ahead of their time in terms of their vision.

Miss Margaret Lyttle (far left) with the first Girls Brigade in Sandymount
10th Company St. Georges - c. 1932/33
10th Company St. Georges - c. 1932/33
Connie Hall - 1950
Connie Hall - 1950
Connie Hall, Violet Dobson and Irene Hobson - 1975
Connie Hall, Violet Dobson, Irene Hobson - 1975
Kathleen Pemberton
Millie Pemberton

From the very beginning of the movement, physical training was important and con­sidered as a natural and valuable training for girls, affording an opportunity of developing, not only a healthy body, but a love of order, friendliness. and a team spirit and eventually many wise and efficient leaders were trained to carry on, where others left off. – Excerpt from the 1958 Jubilee Souvenir Phamplet

Girls down through the years

GB Historical Timeline

1893 - the first Girls' Brigade is started in Sandymount Presbyterian Church

While leading a Sunday School group, Miss Margaret Lyttle teaches some PE classes to the girls to warm them on a cold day. The girls are delighted and ask to do the same each week. Later the girls suggest they call themselves The Girls’ Brigade.

1896 - new companies open - Rutland Square Church & North Stand

The Sandymount group were asked to perform at Rutland Square Presbyterian Church and soon a new group was formed there. Miss Lyttle became a teacher at North Strand National School, and later started a third drill class there.

1908 - A more formal structure was put in place uniting these early Companies

A recognised constitution and uniform was established and companies were allotted numbers – 1st Company, 2nd Company and so on.

1922 - Miss Connie Hall is elected as Hon. Secretary

She held that office for over 50 years having become the first official paid Brigade Secretary, based at Lincoln Place, Dublin in 1947.

1940 - the first Company in Northern Ireland was formed

Miss Irene Burns, later to become Mrs. Irene Hobson, opened the first company in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

1945 - More companies are formed in Northern Ireland

Under the influence of Mrs. Tweed, who as Lil Farquhar had been captain of the 1st Dublin Company Rutland Square from 1934 until she came to reside in Lisburn when she enthusiastically took up the challenge of Girls’ Brigade extension. She also went on to become a Vice-President of The Girls’ Brigade Ireland.

1947 - Headquarters opens in Dublin

The Girls’ Brigade (Dublin division) opened their first headquarters based at 20 Lincoln Place, Dublin with Miss Connie Hall as Brigade Secretary.

1957 - Golden Jubilee is Celebrated

The Girls’ Brigade (Dublin Division) Golden Jubilee was celebrated both in Dublin and Northern Ireland with a garden party, dinners and a four week Jubilee Camp at Llandudno, Wales. Girls’ Brigade was now going from strength to strength in many countries around the world.

1965 - Brought the amalgamation of three youth organisations

Taking the name of the most senior organisation; The Girls’ Brigade (founded in Ireland), The Girls’ Guildry (founded in Scotland) and The Girls’ Life Brigade (founded in England) joined forces.

1991 – Independence for Girls' Brigade Ireland

The Girls’ Brigade Ireland became independent from The Girls’ Brigade in Northern Ireland.

1993 – Centenary of The Girls’ Brigade

Many events were organised including a Centenary Rally in The Royal Albert Hall, London. The Girls’ Brigade Ireland Centenary celebrations which lasted a week and were attended by over 200 delegates from 39 countries. Events included a centenary dinner in The Burlington and a Battalion Display in The National Basketball Arena, the first time that all companies had participated in a display together since the Jubilee.

1998 – GB International creates 5 fellowships

GB International Council creates 5 fellowships, Africa, Asia, Caribbean & Americas, Europe and Pacific. The purpose of which is to unite international companies. Find out more about Girls’ Brigade Worldwide.

2018 – 125 years of The Girls’ Brigade Ireland

Celebrated by many Companies and Districts culminating with a 125 year Celebratory Dinner attended by a large number of members, past and present.

Do you have interesting GB artefacts in your family?

Then please help us with The Girls’ Brigade Historical Archive Project. We are looking for any photographs, old uniforms, badges, trophies, equipment, paraphernalia, stories (written or oral), colours or anything else of interest.