Kirwan, John H. (‘Jock’) (1878–1959), footballer, was born in Co. Wicklow. Nothing is known of his parents or early life; the family may have moved to England when he was a teenager. Kirwan, with the Belfast men Billy Scott and Bill McCracken (qv), was among the first generation of Irish footballers who flourished with English clubs. He played for the London club Tottenham Hotspur (1899–1905) as an outside-left, winning an FA Cup medal in Spurs’ replay victory over Sheffield United in 1901. In 343 games for Spurs he scored 97 goals.
Kirwan won the first of seventeen Irish caps on 24 February 1900 against Wales. His first home international was in Belfast on 1 March 1902, when Scotland won 3–1. He scored two goals for Ireland: one in 1903 against Scotland, when Ireland won 2–0, and also Ireland's only goal in the 1904 3–1 defeat by England. On a few occasions he captained the Irish team; his last game for Ireland was in 1909. In 1904 he played Gaelic football for Dublin, winning an All Ireland senior championship medal. Kirwan transferred to Chelsea in 1905. Towards the end of his footballing days he played for Everton, Southport, and the Scottish club Clyde (1907–9).
From 1910 to 1915 Kirwan was the first paid manager of AFC Ajax of Amsterdam; he is credited with taking the team to the highest level it had achieved in Dutch football, and his name is on a plaque in the club headquarters. He later managed Livorno in Italy, but returned to England and died 9 January 1959. Nothing is known of any marriage or children.