FIGURES IN IRELAND
am indebted to Gabriel
Cannon for the map references to relevant entries. The numbers and
letters refer to the Discovery
maps. The map number (followed by an oblique) precedes the Irish National
Grid letter and co-ordinates.
INDISPUTABLE figures are listed in BOLD type.
- probably male, from the early monastery of Toomregan.
Now in Ballyconnell protestant church. 27A,
- from the ruins of an old church, now in the Cavan County Museum,
- found buried in a graveyard of the old church
in 1842, now in the Cavan County Museum.
or Rutland- in a private collection.
large figure some 30 by 95 cms currently in private ownership near to
the castle from which it most likely came, a few kilometres NE of Carlow
Ballyportry Castle -
now at the National Museum, Dublin.
- inside the restored castle (to which there is an admission charge).
Clenagh - on
a quoin near ground level. 58/R
now-headless figure at the well next to St. Flannan's Church.
- a doubtful figure on a parapet of the Old Canal Bridge, perhaps
moved from Newtown Castle. 58/R
- above the doorway of the old church. 51/R271.916
- on an upside-down twelfth-century window-sill. 57/R271.857
- window-carving of male genitals.
Castle see Killeagh.
Castle - on the S. wall. 86/W280.508
Ballynamona Castle - near Mallow, destroyed in the 1820s
(not exhibitionist) - over window in St. Gobnait's Church. 79/W110.770
Barnahealy - at Castle Warren, gone missing.
- at St Brigid's Well, opposite the ruined castle. Not exhibitionist.
Castle Widenham -
kept inside the private Castle Tower, it can be seen by permission.
- a worn example in the Dúchas store in Mallow.
- recently re-erected on
the old dovecote of Aghadoe Castle.
Kinsale - on
a stone in St. Multose Church. Not
- a recently reported,
worn figure with inward-turned feet,now
in the Fitzgerald Park Museum, Cork.
- now in the Fitzgerald Park Museum, Cork.
- on the north side
of the tower of the old church. Truncated and doubtful. 8
Castle, Lough Eske - missing, recorded in 1846 as a feet-to-ears
acrobat, built into a coach-house.
modern male and female incised on rendered gateposts.
only 'scrotal male' exhibitionist on N side of nave.
- missing, buried in 1844.
- on a quoin on the ruins of Malahide Abbey. 50/O221.454
- on a short cross, along the Enniskerry road. Not
Click to see the other side.
(non-exhibitionist) figure, framed by a a crozier, has been revealed
on the other side.
Glebe - on a standing-stone now in the National Museum,
- Romanesque penis-less, head-to-ears male acrobat.
Island - not exhibitionist.
Island - discovered in 2003, carved on a slab, the bottom part
of which is missing, but it is quite possibly exhibitionist. 17,18
Island - not exhibitionist.
- an ithyphallic dog on a voussoir
of the cathedral window. 45/M286.380
Castle - on the keystone of the 16th century doorway. 46/M445.462
- in a private collection.
Park - a tiny upside-down figure on a decorated window of
Doughiska Castle recalling carvings at Ballinderry Castle and from Smithstown,
county Clare.on the keystone of the 16th century doorway. 46/M35.25
Kilsarkan - a
widely splay-legged figure rubbed in groin area, but not exhibitionist
- above a window in the old church. 72/R026.017
from Lixnaw Castle, now in the National Museum, Dublin.
Rattoo - a worn
figure with huge ears and Indian dancer legs inside the top of the (earlier)
Round Tower. A cast of the original is in the National Museum, Dublin.
For pictures of the tower go to the website http://roundtowers.org/rattoo/index1.htm
- formerly beside the doorway of the now-destroyed castle, hidden
in safe keeping. 55/N797.022
Castle - gone missing in 1901 either from a Cambridge Museum
or en route to it. On higher ground to the N is "The Witch's Rock".
Kildare Cathedral - A figure on the Wellesley tomb
(1539) which is acrobatic but doubtfully exhibitionist.
Castle - a remarkable group of inter-penetrating human and animal
male exhibition-ists. 61/S740. 890
Little - discovered around 1994, but not published, this
figure has a rope (or a snake ?) around its neck and dangling down its
- now in the National Museum, Dublin.
- high up on a quoin, and long-covered by ivy except from the mid 1940s
to the mid 1970s. 60/S348.638
More - reportedly
found down a well at Kyle and now half-displayed in Rothe House, Kilkenny.
- a recently-reported figure (in
private ownership) with asymmetrical eyes, ridiculously high breasts
and a long slit-vulva. 67/S407.572
- on a quoin. 60/S197.899
- high on the south wall. 60/S356.740
Castle - missing
from castle ruins, but recently described by Barbara Freitag as holding
its right hand to its right ear.
- found in the ancient graveyard in 1992 and now in the National
Castle - missing,
its presence recorded in the 1840s.
- a squatting figure at the base of the doorway of the Round Tower,
and another figure on the wall of the ruined castle nearby.
- from a ruined castle, now in a garden wall of a house in Mountmellick
would be considered unusual, certainly, because when they have
been found in the past there has been a tendency to destroy the
wretched things - if people recognised them for what they are."
- Rev. David Woodworth, Dean of the Church of Ireland Cathedral
in Cashel, on the sheela-na-gig found in Clonoulty
graveyard, which may have been used as a grave marker. (1989)
distribution map for approximate
Cloghan Castle, county Roscommon
- headless, now in the Hunt Museum, Limerick.
Castle - high
on the wall. 65/R473.422
on NE quoin of tower-house. 73/R649.279
- on a high
- a very worn, very high-relief figure on the remains of the Cistercian
- on a window embrasure of
the old church. 40/M997.661
- in Millmount Museum.
- probable Luxuria
figure on E side of Muiredeach's Cross. Not exhibitionist. 36/O043.821
- recently discovered on the well opposite the ruins of the
church and Round Tower - and visible from the Lounge door of the
It was stolen in 2006 and its whereabouts is
Ballinrobe and Claremorris) - also recently discovered,
seemingly the addition of a small sheela-body to a pre-existent
- at entrance to modernised dwelling. 43/O056.627
- known as 'St Shanahan' (Old Fellow), on the south
wall of the ruined Church. Drawing by Du Noyer from before
1869. Now almost entirely obliterated. 43/O026.737
- missing from church.
- below the 12 Apostles on a font removed from Kilcarne church
1 km to the south are a clawed animal somewhere between a wolf and
a lion licking its genitals, and a wrestling or copulating couple.
- seven metres
up the E wall of the most south-easterly of a group of castle ruins
at Moymet near the village is a weathered figure, probably robed.
- on wall of former water mill and almost effaced by whitewashing.
- on a standing stone known
as St. Adamhnan's Pillar. Not exhibitionist. 42,
- on display at
National Museum, Dublin.
Cloghan Castle -
missing, recorded in 1906.
- a recently-reported
damaged figure, with slanted eyes,
striated face and protruded tongue. Now in the Public Library.
A - slightly
exhibitionist acrobat on the chancel arch of the "Nun's Church".
B (possibly a second
figure from Burgesbeg, Tipperary), a very crude carving now in the National
Castle - on
quoin to left of main entrance. 47/N118.316
Castle - very high
up and soon to fall down. 53/N021.137
- in private hands.
- now in the Castle Museum, Athlone.
Castle - missing since 1870.
- once at the old
church, now on display at the National Museum, Dublin.
Abbey - not exhibitionist.
Castle - sideways on
a quoin. 40/M844.508
- on a decorated stone at Temple House - privately owned.
- on the keystone of the
- two figures from the castle, now on Scregg House. 40/M931.558
- on the apex of the church gable.
Castle - now in private
Castle - fallen arch-stone,
- on a quoin on the SW corner of the older church in the centre of
the village. 59/R893.749
On a castle at another Ballinaclogh
some 17 km SSE (66/R 984.406) is an entirely
defaced figure which might have been a sheela-na-gig.
- on a quoin on the west wall. 53/R898.936
- a dancing figure near the doorway. 66/S036.408
from a ruined church, now at the National Museum, Dublin.
- a typical
squatting figure placed sideways on the mediæval church on the
Rock of Cashel. 66/S028.504
A second figure with twisted legs is in the Cathedral
and is not exhibitionist. A third very
faint figure with large vulva & circular ears can be seen in the
Cashel Palace Hotel
- formerly the Bishop's
- from a Dominican priory, now in the National Museum, Dublin.
a recently discovered figure without facial features, currently in the
GPA Bolton Library in Cashel. 66/S028.504
Sheela is on the Old Town Wall overlooking the bridge. 67/S21.35
The other (barely-exhibitionist) is at
on the 14th century ruins.
almost effaced by hacking, on wall, near entrance to the 15th century
- stolen in 1990. 67/S231.319
Castle - on
the well-house (since 1940) in private grounds. Originally from the
castle or, possibly, the church ?
stone in doorway of 12th century church ruins. 67/S225.576
- the well-known, early-reported figure known as "Catherine Owen" is
no longer extant, but a 19th century drawing of it is convincing.
Lennan - from
a mediæval church, now in the National Museum. Dublin.
Castle - high
up on the front wall. 53/M928.098
- at a ruined church, one of the earliest recorded (1840), long since
- one figure
half-way up the W side of the tower of the old church, another low on
the E side. 74/R991.135
- a damaged figure on a remnant of
the town wall, currently hidden behind a new building.
Keeroge - from the
ruined church, now in the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
- recorded in 1937, found in a sandpit, put on a barn gable, alleged
to have brought "ill-fortune," and now missing.
- Now in storage, this damaged and weathered, clothed figure, recently
dug up from the graveyard, has similarities to carvings from Rahan and
at Cloghan Castle. The head has no ears and no breasts are apparent.
There is no vulva but the remaining right hand is in just the right
place to share a common purpose with most other sheela na gigs. Only
half of the left arm remains, but the forearm could have passed over
or under the left leg.
- in the Athlone Castle Museum,
once in the convent: a footless figure clutching its knees to its chin.
- megaphallic male on a
gatepost at the entrance to a driveway.
Castle - now in the
National Museum, Dublin.
found in 1859, and, recorded as 'Chloran', for long in the Witt Collection
of the British Museum. Very similar to the Cavan carving.
small tongue-sticking feet-to-ears acrobat over rear gateway. 48/N19.38
- high-relief squatting, toothily-grimacing anal-exhibitionist (with
hands clutching knees) above a window in the north wall of the 15th
It has two sets of eyes, a
characteristic ascribed by mediæval Europeans to Ethiopians.
- A tiny figure at the bottom of the 12th century east window in
St Saviour's church is Ireland's only "femme-aux-serpents",