Promoted Drogheda United
|Champions Kilkenny City|
Champion Kilkenny City A.F.C.
|Top goalscorer Richie Hale: 13 (Kilkenny City) Tony Izzi: 13 (Cobh Ramblers)|
The 1996–97 League of Ireland First Division season was the 12th season of the League of Ireland First Division.
The First Division was contested by 10 teams and Kilkenny City won the division.
Third placed Waterford United played off against Dundalk F.C. who finished in tenth place in the 1996–97 League of Ireland Premier Division. The winner would compete in the 1997–98 League of Ireland Premier Division.
Dundalk F.C. won 3–1 on aggregate and retained their place in the Premier Division.