Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, acrobat figure (sheelanagig)
ID
 
22
 
Original Country
 
Ireland
 
Region
 
Offaly
 
Community
  
Sorting Title
 
Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, acrobat figure (sheelanagig)
 
Subject
 

Supposedly first known sheelanagig in Ireland. These figures were similar to grotesques and acrobats familiar in Romanesque sculpture in England and on the Continent. In Ireland, they appeared frequently in women's religious communities, and later in the Middle Ages on secular constructions such as houses and bridges. The name "sheelanagig" may derive from Irish síle-na-gcíoch, which may mean "old hag of the paps" or "sheela on her hunkers". Sheelas may have been apotropaic figures, similar to the grotesques of continental architecture, perhaps meant to combat evil spirits.

 
Creation Date
 
1026, rebuilt 1167
 
Century
 
11th, 12th
 
Style Genre
 
Romanesque
 
Specific Location
 

Interior, chancel arch, detail

 
Patrons and Others
 

Dearbhfhorghaill, daughter of Murchadh O Maelseachlainn, wife of Tighernan O Ruairc, mistress (?) of Diarmad Mac Murchadha

 
Descriptive Notes
 

Alternate names of Clonmacnois include Riaghtalta Kailleach, Kelbyguneth, and Kelbygmieth

 
Current Repository
 

Nuns' church,Clonmacnois, Ireland

 
Repository Number
  
Photo Credit
 
Peter Mancall
 
Image of Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, acrobat figure (sheelanagig).