Rahara Sheela, Co. Roscommon (originally from a keystone in a graveyard beside the medieval church in Rahara, this figure is now in the Roscommon County Museum in Roscommon Town). Visited in November 1998.

My partner Seamus and I had a very difficult time locating this figure. We stopped at every medieval-looking figure, stone, wall, or church in the tiny town of Rahara, finally locating the correct church. We waded through the extremely creepy and boggy church grounds (the entire church has sunk about 15 feet down into the bog over the years) but found no sheela. Finally, we asked at the post office, and they told us that the townspeople thought that the figure would be better off in a museum, and it had been shipped off to Roscommon town for safekeeping.

We raced to Roscommon, and got to the Roscommon County Museum just 30 minutes before closing time. The Rahara figure is displayed on her back, on a high pillar, which is very difficult to photograph. The museum loaned us chairs to stand on and shoot from above, but the flash still was too bright and the shots did not come out well. This sheela is very well preserved, with a toothy grimace, a flat triangular nose, pendulous breasts, a prominent navel and two long plaits. Most sheelas are shown either squatting or standing; this sheela is seated on a little ledge.

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copyright 2000 Tara McLoughlin