Meet our new Honorary Ambassador Shirley McCay!

We are delighted to announce that our new Irish Girl Guides (IGG) Honorary Ambassador is hockey superstar Shirley McCay!

Shirley, who is a member of Ireland’s international hockey team, is the most capped female athlete in this country having earned over 300 caps.

Shirley joined our (mostly online) General Council meeting on 5 September when IGG President Maureen Murphy described her as “a real trailblazer in the world of women’s sport in Ireland” who would be a very positive role model for our members.

Maureen said, “Her motto when receiving her 300th cap was, ‘To every young Irish girl who dares to dream and every old Irish girl who has gone before … this one’s for you!”

Shirley, a former Brownie and Guide, took the opportunity to reminisce about her time as a member of Girlguiding Ulster (she was brought up in Drumquin, Co Tyrone) and showed us her Brownie sash, which she has kept to this day.

Joining the Council meeting, Shirley said, “It’s great to be present virtually with you all today and maybe these kinds of meetings are the way forward at times! I would also like to thank you for the invite to be the IGG ambassador for the coming year. I have been reading up on previous ambassadors and it’s fairly clear I have big boots to fill! It is an honour to have been asked and I am really looking forward to meeting you all in person, hopefully very soon.

“I grew up in a small village called Drumquin just outside Omagh in County Tyrone. I used to attend Brownies and Guides every week in my local church hall. I still remember my Granda taking me along in his little red Peugeot! I started playing hockey when I went to secondary school and, from there, never really looked back. There aren’t many hockey players that come out of Drumquin!

“I got my first cap in January 2007 in South Africa at the age of 18 and, since then, have amassed 305 international appearances for Ireland, which makes me the highest capped athlete in any team sport in Ireland. It is an honour to hold that title and it’s been a lot of years of hard work and commitment. I have had a few disappointments during my career but no doubt the highlight was getting my 300th cap in Dublin last November as we beat Canada in a penalty shoot out to qualify for Tokyo. Unfortunately, due to Covid we have been delayed a year but crossing everything that we go ahead in 2021!

“In my job outside of playing for Ireland I work as a Talent Coach for Ulster Hockey, so week on week get to coach wonderful young up and coming boys and girls the sport that has given me so much. It is wonderful to give back as well.

“As mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to hopefully get back to some normality and to have the opportunity to meet you all soon, get along to some IGG events, meet the girls and maybe even, if we get to host some international hockey, you would all be more than welcome to attend.

“Thank you again for the warm welcome and I look forward to seeing you in the not too distant future.”


We are sure lots of our youth members will have questions they would like to ask Shirley!

Shirley has kindly agreed to answer questions about her career, her approach to life and her time as a Brownie and Guide. We are inviting Ladybirds, Brownies, Guides and Senior Branch members to send a video of themselves in IGG uniform asking a question (under 18s must have their parents’ permission, of course).

We look forward to hearing what interesting questions girls come up with! They may find themselves in a video with Shirley answering their question. If we are inundated with questions, we will have to select a number of videos and cannot guarantee every question will be included BUT we will try to include as many as possible!

Video clips of girls asking their questions while wearing IGG uniform can be sent by email to with Ambassador Competition in the subject line or by WhatsApp to 085 8570565 before 1 October. The girl’s name, Unit, Leader and parents’contact details must be included.