About The Sheelagh Series

The Sheelagh’s started out as a one painting commission, to capture some of the themes of gender, Irish nationality, language & women’s identity in the poetry of Nuala Ni Domhnaill & Eavan Boland.

Eirigh (Arise) and her sisters were painted during 2007-2009 & were inspired by the language of the poetry, Goddess Tarot Cards, the elements, cycles of women’s lives and the quiet resurgence of interest in the ancient Irish Sheela- na- Gigs (Sile na Gigs).  

“In Ireland, there are over 110 examples of these, oft misunderstood, medieval stone carvings of naked, old women exposing their genitalia. They are often positioned in medieval tower-houses, medieval church sites and holy wells. Up to recently these were figures representing the evils of lust or as ways of averting the ‘evil eye’. More convincing reassessments have reinterpreted the Sheela-na-gig, in line with the Cailleach, as belonging to the realm of vernacular folk deities associated with the life-giving powers of birth and death. Placed with the cycles of both the natural and agricultural year and the human life cycle, she can be regarded as the embodiment of the cycle of fertility that overarches natural, agricultural and human procreation and death”. (2017)
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