Sporting activity and the training of warriors in the Irish ulster tales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current contribution of ancient Irish to ancient sport history is very limited. In aiming to redress this, the article identifies the early Irish tales as a rich source of information relating to the nature and significance of sport-like activity in the ancient world. Taking the traditional Irish tales as its data, it examines the contribution that these tales might offer to a scholarly understanding of ancient sport history. An examination of the role and significance that sport-like activity plays in the Irish tales can help illuminate the contribution of the Irish tales to ancient sport histories. The Ulster tales contain salient references to sport-like activity, which plays a critical role in the definition and status of a warrior. The tales provide evidence of specialized warrior training and an identifiable pattern of martial education, of which sport-like activity is a central component. The article examines one aspect of this contribution to the understanding of sport, the nature and significance of three sport-like activities (hurley, wrestling and 'the stripping game') as they relate to martial learning and combat skill development in the early Irish Ulster tales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSporting Traditions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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