The ruins of Blackhall Castle stand off the main road on private property, belonging to Jeff and Naomi White. My parents and I visited, hoping to see the figure. We met Mr. Eddie Conway, the manager of the farm, who was very helpful and friendly. He sadly informed us that the piece of the castle on which the sheela-na-gig was located collapsed in a fierce storm in February of 1999. They picked through the rubble, and found to their delight that the sheela was safe and sound! They buried her for safekeeping, and got a grant from the government to restore the castle. They plan to put the sheela-na-gig back up when the project is complete.
This photo shows (L-R) my dad, Mr. Conway and my mom. The sheela-na- gig was located in the part of the castle above my father's head. According to the photos I have seen in Anderson's book and in the Irish Museum of Modern art book (see Bibliography for more details), the figure is a well-preserved and impressive one. She is standing with bowed legs, has an almost perfectly round head, a strangely pleasant smile, and a flat chest with well-defined ribs.
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© copyright 2000 Tara McLoughlin