Sheela na Gigs are stone carvings depicting
a naked female exhibiting herself in an explicit and
provocative way. These images are found throughout Ireland
and in parts of England. Theories abound as to their
meaning and dating, with a consensus almost being arrived at
which agrees that they appear mostly on churches and castles
built after the 12th century and are possibly a continuation
of a much earlier pagan custom. There are many opinions
as to what the figures represent and their raison d'etre.
These opinions are as diverse as the
shapes and styles of the Sheelas themselves and include Pagan
Spirit, Mother Earth,
Earth Goddess, Pagan Goddess, good luck symbols, fertility
symbols, figures to celebrate womanhood etc. It is widely
believed that they repel evil spirits.
WHAT IS A
SHEELA NA GIG?
Sheela scholars will never
agree on just what the purpose of Sheelas was, but
some theories are mentioned below!
"Sheelas have taken on a new
meaning in today's world and now represent liberated women. Sheela na Gigs
are seen through modern eyes as being 'defiant' rather than
Ballynahinch Sheela Co. Tipperary
'SHEELA NA GIG'
Here is the real meaning of
Sheela na Gig
Compiled by a speaker of
Irish or Gaelic.
Read below exactly what the words Sheela na Gig
mean and read how the Irish words were corrupted in
the same fashion as Irish placenames. (This page first
saw the light of day in 2004.)
The Sí lena Gig interpretation of these enigmatic
figures is now widely accepted by irish Scholars and
Meaning of Sheela na
In spite of the very biased and inaccurate article on
Wikipedia regarding the derivation of the name Sheela na
Gig......the name is Irish and there is no consistent
name for these carvings in the English language. Some
misguided people almost stand on their heads rather than
acknowledge that the name is Irish. The simple name is
explained below. It is worth noting, that the earliest
mention of Sheela na Gig was at Drury Lane in 1780 when an
Irish lilt named 'She La Na Gig' was performed.
Interpreting Shee Lena Gig
Here is the real meaning of the name Sheela Na Gig.
It is a fact that placenames in
Ireland are almost always corruptions of Gaelic words and one has to
listen to the placename rather than read it in order to understand
it. It is necessary to hear the name as our ancestors heard
it. One of the foremost authorities on placenames in Ireland is
Joyce and anyone with an interest in Irish placenames should make an
effort to get a copy of his book.
So, following this logic of listening to names
rather than reading them, a Gaelic speaker can hear the words 'Sheela na Gig' as
being - in Gaelic - Sidhe Lena Gig. This is pronounced
'Shee Lena Gig'. Sidhe is the Gaelic for Fairy Woman.
is the Gaelic for 'with her' and Gig is the Gaelic for sexual
appendage. So.... Sheela na Gig is 'Sidhe Lena Gig' and
means Fairy Woman with her sexual appendage.
P.W. Joyce, the foremost scholar in Irish
placenames has this to say on page 184, vol. 1, Irish Names of
"Sidh [pronounced Shee] as we
have seen, was originally applied to a fairy palace and it was
afterwards transferred to the hill, and ultimately to the fairies
themselves; but this last transition must have begun at a very early
period, for we find it expressly stated in the Leabhar na hUidhre [early
12th century] , that the ignorant call the fairies Side [plural].
At the present day, the word generally signifies a fairy..."
Ard fuaim na n-uisgi éadtroma -- Shallow Waters make great
Noise (Old Irish Proverb)