'St. Munna's Church' : Sheela-na-Gig

TownlandTaghmon
CountyWestmeath
Grid RefN 486 615
GPSN 48607 61480 (12m)
Longitude7° 15' 56.49" W
Latitude53° 36' 3.25" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCastlepollard (9.1 Km)
OS Sheet41
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 20th June 2004

This is one of the more ugly Sheela-na-Gigs, but it's somehow nicely haunting. Despite its rather terrifying appearance I was not at all bothered by seeing its image everytime I closed my eyes for the rest of the day - in fact I can still see her if I do it now some 11 hours later.

The figure is sitated above a window on the north wall of the current church. Above the nearby door is what appears to be a bishop's head and mounted into a quoin on the north-west corner is another very unusual head, which I suspect may have come from another Sheela. It has odd ears, one eye is closed and the other gouged out and there is some odd 'scarring' around the neck.

Back to the Sheela though. She is carved as if sitting down with her heel against her butt and with her hands holding her knees tight to her chest slightly apart so as to reveal the worn vulva. Her feet seem to be missing. Her face is contorted into a wide-mouthed grimace and she may have a small beard.

The church itself is quite interesting, but not of great antiquity. The tall tower is built like a castle keep and held the lodgings for the priest.

The site was first occupied in the 600s by St. Munna abd whenever you get a site this early I always have to wonder whether it was one of those instances where a pagan site was taken over. It didn't take long to realise that this is probably the case here. The site is in a small ampitheatre that opens to the north-west and through this gap, framed quite beautifully, you can see what I believe to be Corstown Hill at Loughcrew.

Like this monument

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A Selection of Other Sheela-na-Gigs

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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