Violet McBride

Violet McBride is one of the most respected hockey players in Ulster, having won 38 caps for Ireland, 64 caps for Great Britain and captaining on one occasion the GB team at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Although renowned for her hockey prowess, in her primary school Violet was the only girl in the boys’ soccer team.

Her father was a cricketer and footballer and Violet was keen on any sport. At Kilkeel High School she developed her hockey skills, playing hockey on Saturday mornings for the school and for Portadown Ladies in the afternoon. There were no training gyms, with training being outdoor on the pitch. Violet wanted to be the best and she worked hard at improving her fitness levels. She played centre half as she liked to be involved all the time in the plays and recalls big matches against Pegasus.

On gaining her first cap for Ulster she was very moved and very nervous until the game started. After playing for Ulster she wanted to play for Ireland and she managed to do that on 38 occasions. She remembers many memorable matches for Ireland and she admired local players such as Margaret Cleghorne and Jenny Redpath.

Violet combined playing for Ireland and Great Britain for several years but eventually a choice had to be made as you could only represent one country and not both in the Olympic Games. Violet had already played for Ireland in two World Cups and was determined to make it with the GB team to the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

In 1987 Violet gained the Hockey Player of the Year Award and in a tournament in Spain she was awarded player of the tournament. For the Olympics Violet could not have worked harder and she was ‘so excited’ in getting a chance play in such a competition – indeed it was ‘unbelievable’ to be selected. It was ‘breath-taking’ at the opening ceremony and later in the first match against New Zealand she was so nervous that she could hardly take a breath.

Although adrenalin eventually kicked in, Violet felt the strain as vice-captain of the team. The pitches were Astroturf and the facilities in Seoul were second-to-none but it was a steep learning curve for both management and players. In the team’s final match against Holland for bronze Violet was appointed captain – for her this was a nice way to bow out of the tournament. It was a ‘huge honour’ to work with these players and Violet made many friendships through hockey.

Besides her hockey success Violet is well known as a single figure handicap golfer and as a world pipe band drum major champion. Violet McBride MBE feels that an Ulster Sports Museum is a ‘fantastic idea’ which would particularly inspire young people to participate in sport in the future.

  • Name
  • Violet McBride
  • Sport
  • Hockey
  • Born
  • October 16, 1954 in Kilkeel, Newry and Mourne, Northern Ireland
  • Affiliations
  • Portadown Hockey Club, Portadown NI
  • Country
  • Great Britain