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Esker Castle Sheela-na-Gig
 

County

Offaly

Coordinates

N 53° 20' 07.5"   W 007° 49' 18.9"

Nearest town

Ferbane

Grid Ref.

N 11861 31701

Map No.

47

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

68

Date of visit

Sunday 31 May 2009

GPS Accuracy (m)

5
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The castle in the thick vegetation on the hill.


We should have seen a sheela-na-gig at this castle. But the thick and impenetrable vegetation that surrounds the building stopped us from getting closer. Maybe there's a different route to access the castle, but we didn't find it.

UPDATE: June 20th, 2018 - The visit was successful, at last!
This time I managed to get to the ruins of the castle and see this sheela-na-gig.

Reaching the castle is a bit tricky. There's a path starting at the foot of the mound where the castle is onto, but this path soon disappears in the thick and dense vegetation. My impression was that nobody had come up here in ages, so when I was in sight of the castle it was just like discovering a new world!

An early castle was built at this site in the 10th century by the Mooney Clan. This building was erected later, and was occupied until 1775 when the Mooney moved a bit further south.

Today the castle is almost completely ivy-clad. My fear was that the sheela-na-gig was buried under the ivy, but luckily its spot was clear, even though I don't know how long it will be this way, the ivy is already coming up.

The effigy is on a quoin stone on the northeast (65°) side of the castle, at about 3.75 metres from the ground. The carved stone is set horizontally in the wall. According to some sources, the stone with the figure once was on a different building nearby, and was inserted in the wall after the building of the castle.
The figure has a very big head compared to the rest of her body, with visible ears and a big nose. Her eyes are open, her mouth seems half-open.
Her hands pass behind her legs to keep them spread apart, both her feet point to her right.
Weirdly, her vulva is in the middle of her chest.
No ribs or breasts are visible.

The stone on which the figure is carved measures 48 centimetres in width and 27 centimetres in height (in its horizontal position). The figure is 32 centimetres long head to toes.

The sense of accomplishment at the end of the visit was great!


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