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Castletown Stone Figure
 

County

Louth

Coordinates

N 54° 01' 00.3"   W 006° 25' 34.2"

Nearest town

Dundalk

Grid Ref.

J 03142 08651

Map No.

36

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

10

Date of visit

Sunday 26 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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The carved figure is in the wall facing south-southeast of the tennis court.


This carved figure is set into a niche in the wall of the tennis court of the St. Louis Secondary School in Dundalk, facing south-southeast (155°).
It stands at 1.57 metres from the ground and measures 54 centimetres of width and 49 centimetres of height.
Certainly the figure was part of another building anywhere in Ireland and later was removed from it to be placed where it is now.
The figure is dated likely to the 15th century, and depicts a big head with prominent eyes well delimited by their eyelids. There are several grooves across the face, representing deep wrinkles. Two hands, with the thumbs pointing upwards, appear from nothing either side of the head and pull it open to show 12 teeth.

Figures like this are called mouth-puller, and another example can be seen at Balrothery Church, though this latter one is less striking and grotesque, and its mouth is small if compared to the size of the head.

The action of pulling the mouth open mimics the action of showing the vulva in many sheela-na-gig figures, hence we could say that mouth-pullers and sheela-na-gigs were both intended to ward off evil.


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