Síle na Gigh is pronounced …. Sheela nah Ghee and has always been that way in my memory of over 50yrs living in Dublin. The same pronunciation applies in Limerick, according to Shae Clancy and more recently heard in Cashel. And while those city people would know of that name very, very few would have seen a Sheela in their lifetime but yet, that folk memory is still retained by them!?
Surprisingly I have asked in other areas of the country and have only received the Anglicized version i.e. Sheelanagig. Perhaps this is more socially acceptable to them than Gi(gh) or Ghee, which is still in use today by the city working classes to refer to the female sex organ. If you’re wondering about the title of the page, in old Irish ġ was silent and was modernised to gh for keyboard use.
I think using this translation gets right to the point and leaves out sagging breasts, hunkers, hags, jigging and other spurious attempts to avoid the obvious conclusion.
These attempts were mostly generated by previous ultra conservative male researchers and it took a more realistic turn when women became interested in the subject.
However, in order to avoid any further confusion I shall be using the internationally accepted Sheelanagig in the rest of this site.
Why are sheelas most commonly found on the South wall of their hosts, even allowing for the fact that many are relocated. A survey of locations revealed that twice as many sheelas are located on southern walls than on all the other walls combined. Is it simply a question of convenience, of protection, of fertility to the land and it’s people or because that side had the door on it. It’s up to you, the next generation to test these theories and come up with an answer that everyone can agree on.
But, be aware, if we have 10 sheela experts, we will have 10 different theories about their functions and I have just added my own whimsies for you to ponder.
The truth is, that we have absolutely no idea what Sheelas were used for, where they came from and why they have survived so long. Through Reformation, Plague, Cromwell and the hippocritic Victorians, the Sheela has survived to the 21th Century, where it is hoped she can now be given proper recognition and a rightful place in World Archaeology.