Women, sport and martial training in the Ulster Cycle of tales

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The historical record, both literary and archaeological, as well as mythology and folk tales, provides several examples of women participating in sport and war in the ancient world. However, there are very few societies existing before the late twentieth century where women's participation in sport, games, warfare and martial skill training was deemed to be acceptable and encouraged. Indeed, according to Nancy Dickson, female warriors, or 'viragos', were largely ignored by scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. An early generation of academics were appalled by the independence of such women, and especially by their sexual autonomy, while later generations of scholars thought the virago to be 'deliberately malignant', forcing men to behave badly or exposing men's flawed behaviour. Within this context, the purpose of this paper is to examine women's contribution to, and participation in, sport-like activity and martial training in the tales of the early Irish Ulster Cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport, culture and society
Subtitle of host publicationApproaches, methods and perspectives
EditorsMichael Burke, Clare Hanlon , Carl Thomen
Place of PublicationHawthorn, Vic
PublisherMaribyrnong Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780975238462
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Women, sport and martial training in the Ulster Cycle of tales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this