Note, this site is undergoing some maintenence. Use Map of Ireland to see updates after 28 June 2006.
This is going to be your one stop sheela shop!
Get the latest information, maps and visuals here…all free!
And if there is not enough information on the sheela of your choice, contact me and I’ll see what I can dig up for you.
Having wasted a lot of time searching for Sheela sites all over Ireland, I felt there was a gap in the market for more accurate information. For no sooner has a book been published then it is already out of date and at the rate new sheelas are being found the only sensible way to record these figures is on the Internet.
With new housing estates cropping up all over, and even worse, the National Road system becoming a law unto itself, and quite literally getting away with…Oop’s was that a Castle, it is vitally important to record and protect these figures before Government vandalism becomes even more arrogant.
I hope to give you all the information you need, to get you to all the sheelas in Ireland, AND, with a few jaundiced remarks thrown in for good measure!
Once you have visited these sheelas for yourself, get down to your local library and borrow some good books on the subject. I’ll provide a list in the side column.
And if of course you think that I have left out something important, please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and I will tell what I’ll do with them.
HELP. As it is not possible for me to be at all these sites, all the time, I’ll rely on people like yourself to help me keep this site as accurate as possible for the use of other shee-ites. Thanks.
NOW, THE BORING BIT.
WHY?......Sile na Gigh
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.
I think using this translation gets right to the point, and leaves out sagging breasts, hunkers, hags and jigging, and other spurious attempts to avoid the obvious conclusion.
However, in order to avoid any further confusion I shall be using the internationally accepted sheelanagig in the rest of this site.
AND ANOTHER THING,
Why are sheelas most commonly found on the South wall of their hosts, even allowing for the fact that many are relocated. Did the source of their Fear only come from one direction?
No, I would have to think that this was the best location for rebirth in the Northern Hemisphere as it gives the longest period of Sunlight to fall on the welcoming and open vulva.
Much as many other cultures used the rising sun to return life each morning, the Irish Sheelanagig was re-seeded daily by the greater power to channel fertility to the land and it’s people. A survey of locations revealed that twice as many sheelas are located on southern walls than all the other walls combined.
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.
As you will have noticed the great variety of prints of even the same sheela and disregarding the skill of these photographers, the best shots come at the sunrise and sunset where, a shadow is cast over the image bringing out detail that would not normally be visible.
Unless you intend to camp out for a couple of days to get that perfect shot, it has become increasingly obvious to me that artifical light would be best suited to achieve this end. Now, that involves a lot of extra equipment and it is not always possible to get as close as you would like but if you do a bit of advance planning, your photos will be greatly improved.
Re-reading the Fethard book he used his car headlights at night to bring out the detail when he was putting the final touches to the Kiltinan Sheela replica.
I have started to carry things like a small pair of steps, a water spray bottle, a dust brush and gardening equipment to make the stone available for taking photos. I carry a few torches and tin foil as a disposable reflector as I experiment with this other area of our hobby.
Digital versus Film is the next question and I would have to admit that digital is not as good as film just yet but the versatility of the medium far outweighs the slight disadvantage. Newspaper photographers take photos at the scene and can send that image hundreds of miles to their paper in seconds.
While that won’t apply to you, you will be loading images on your computer and sharing your experiences with your friends and it is so much more convenient to do this in the comfort of you own home.
Equipment next and the first thing is a tripod, to free up your hands while you set up your shot. Next, the camera should be at least 3 million pixels, or more if you can afford it, coupled with a flash for those occasions when you have to be quick (Bull in field?). Zoom or Telephoto lens for those sheelas high up on Castles. Large Memory Cards as you take a lot more pictures than you think, and spare batteries if you are going to be away for any length of time.
Ah God be with the days of the good old Box Brownie!
PS. Do download Picasa that is available as a free trial from Google, highly recommended. http://www.picasa.com/google/
PPS. My gratitude to those people who have let me use their photographs on this site, namely:- Anthony Weir, Shae Clancy, Keith Jones and Barbara Freitag and many others.The ownership of these photos remain with the author and permission must be sought from the owner before reusing them.
Last Updated: 23 July 04
© Copyright 2004