An Unexpected Detail

The now-roofless church in Kilnaboy, County Clare is similar to many others in the region, dating from the 11th century with subsequent additions such as the late-mediaeval east window (seen above). One unexpected feature of the building can be found over a door on the south side: a Sheela na gig. For those unfamiliar with these figures, of which around 100-odd exist in Ireland, they are believed to be fertility symbols which first appeared in this country during the 12th century, perhaps introduced by Anglo-Norman settlers.


5 comments on “An Unexpected Detail

  1. That window photo is fascinating ! Was it made in two parts or subsequently repaired ? The lower part looks newer and doesn’t line up with the top ! Great Photo ! Interesting comment about the Sheela/ Sile’s. There is an interesting paper; assign each Sheela either to site and find out whether the site is of Gaelic or Anglo Norman provenance.

    • I think the east window, as Martin proposes below, is post-1450 but may also have been patched up/altered/repaired at some subsequent date. Because such churches were still used for services even in post-Reformation Ireland, and the surrounding land as burial sites, they often underwent modification.

  2. martin says:

    The window is post 1450………

  3. John Considine says:

    The cross of Lorraine on the gable at Kilnaboy, and the stub of the round tower are also interesting, as is the tau cross found in the vicinity.

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