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Subject: Re: Trees and Sheela-na-gigs
From: Janet Wallwork <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Fri, 11 Feb 1994 10:58:49 GMT

text/plain (44 lines)

Patricia Tomasulo asked:
please, any and all info on sheela- na-gigs would be most welcome. I
> spent a bit of time looking for sheelas in Ireland, especially in places
> there was reputed to be one, but only found a very few. I would especially
> love to have as specific details as you could provide.
A useful book (which despite its lurid title is serious and
scholarly) is "Images of lust: sexual carvings on medieval churches"
by Anthony Weir and James Jerman, Batsford, London, 1986. As well as
a chapter on sheelas there are good maps, including one of Ireland
which shows many, even classified into 5 different types!
There was also an article by James Jerman "The sheela-na-gig carvings
of the British Isles" in the Co.Louth Archeol. & Hist.Soc.Jnl, 1981.
The best I ever saw was not in Ireland, but in (or rather, on)
Kilpeck church, outside Hereford, England. I had gone to make slides
for a forthcoming lecture. Unfortunately, of the three cameras I had
taken, the two loaded with slide film jammed when I tried to record
it. It had never happened before, so I extracted the film, reloaded
both, and again they jammed. The camera loaded with print film
appeared to function perfectly, but when developed, all the shots of
the sheela were blank; those shots before and after were perfect. Not
to be daunted, I had our technician make me a slide from a book. The
lecture (on Celtic religion) was heavily dependent on slides,
overheads and video clips. It was scheduled for Oct.31st -
feast of Samhain, though the person who drew up the programme did not
know that. It all went well until the sheelah slide was due, at which
point the projector jammed. Three times it was reset, and three times
jammed. Refusing to be defeated I decided to pass round the book with
the illustration in it - to find that unaccountably it was no longer
in my bag, though I remembered packing it. I announced I would return
to the library in the intermission, until someone pointed out that
the nice clear dry evening had turned to torrents of rain. At this
point the video machine failed. However, when I announced that
perhap we would abandon the subject of the sheelas, it started up
again, and the lecture continued uneventfully. Of course I'm sure
there's a perfectly rational explanation.......
Janet L.Wallwork

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