Sport, games, women and warriors: an historical and philosophical examination of the early Irish Ulster cycle

Osborne, Jaquelyn (2010) Sport, games, women and warriors: an historical and philosophical examination of the early Irish Ulster cycle. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis identifies the early Irish Ulster Cycle of tales as a rich source of information relating to the nature and significance of sport-like activity in the ancient world. Taking the tales of the Ulster Cycle as its data, this thesis adopts a method of analysis which combines aspects of historical and postmodern philosophical processes. The relationships between and among sport, history, truth and fiction are investigated in determining the contribution that the early Irish Ulster Cycle of tales might offer the historian of sport. Central to this notion is the idea that an examination of the role and significance that sport-like activity plays in the Ulster tales might help produce useful and interesting descriptions and understandings of sport in general and sport history in particular. This thesis addresses several aspects of the role of sport-like activity in the tales, namely: the role of sport-like activity in the development of the Celtic „hero‟; the connection between sport-like activity and combat; the use of sport-like activity in gaining and maintaining social status; and, the role of women in the physical development of the hero. This thesis asserts some important conclusions regarding sport and games in the Ulster tales and their contribution to sport history. The Ulster tales do indeed contain salient references to sport-like activity. Sport-like activity plays a critical role in the definition and status of a warrior. The tales provide evidence of specialised warrior training and an identifiable pattern of martial education of which sport-like activity is a central component. Several women are trained in martial arts and play a primary role in the latter stages of the physical and martial education of warriors. Finally, the sport-like activity in the tales can be seen to contain evidence of an early sport ethic. In essence, this thesis offers a fresh contribution to the understanding of sport in the ancient world by way of an examination of the sport-like activity in the early Irish Ulster tales.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2203 Philosophy
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Keywords ancient sports history, sport history, sport philosophy, sports philosophy, early Irish Ulster Cycle, Ulster Cycle of tales, Ulster tales, Irish mythology, Celtic mythology, ancient games, ancient toys, ancient myths, ancient mythology, ancient history, ancient Ireland, Celts, women, warriors, warrior training, combat, hero, martial arts
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login