Shee Lena Gig
Sheela na Gig pictured here is from Ballynahinch County Tipperary.
The purpose of this BLOG is to argue, cajole, persuade, enlighten, discuss with, annoy, and demonstrate to all and sundry that the name Sheela na Gig is really a corruption of the words Shee Lena Gig. Here's where the theory comes from:
The words Sheela na Gig are a corruption of the words Shee lena Gig.
From Wikipedia: HC Lawlor in Man Vol.31, Jan 1931 (Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland) says "The term "sheela-na-gig" has no etymological meaning and is an absurd name" .
There you have it! Sheela na Gig is an absurd name. And why? Because it should read Shee lena Gig. Transport yourself back to Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteeenth century and LISTEN to the words. Disregard all the written information (misinformation?) you have ever seen. Close your eyes and LISTEN carefully. Shee lena gig. That's what the Irish people were saying and Sheela na Gig is what someone wrote down. Easy mistake but it's time to correct it.
The word Shee is derived from Sídhe which is Gaelic for Fairy Woman or sprite. A few anally retentive types will argue on their backs to demonstrate that the word 'sídhe' originally meant a fairy mound or a mound beneath which the fairies lived. Enough already! The word also means a fairy woman or sprite. There are no records of the term Sheela na Gig being used prior to about 1770. And, at that time the word Sídhe was being used as a word for Fairy Woman.
The word lena is easy to translate because it is right there on www.englishirishdictionary.com
(To find it, type in 'with her' in the box for 'English word' and press GO.)
dismissal includes the termination by an employee of her contract of employment with her employer
folaíonn dífhostú fostaí d'fhoirceannadh a conartha fostaíochta lena fostóir;
Lena means 'with her'. So, there's most of it. Shee lena...
Now for the word Gig.
There are ample references to show that the word Gee (with hard G) is still used in some parts of Ireland as a slang word for vagina.
Dennis King writes - in an on-line list on Old Irish: "Gee" ('g' as in "go") is modern-ish Dublin slang.
On www.irelands_sheelanagigs.org Gabriel Cannon (one of Ireland's foremost authorities on Sheelas) writes "Pronounced….Sheela nah Ghee and has always been that way in my memory of over 50yrs living in Dublin. The same pron. applies in Limerick, according to Shae Clancy and more recently heard in Cashel. And while those city people would know of that name very, very few would have seen a Sheela in their lifetime but yet, that folk memory is still retained by them.
SiGarb writing in Wikipedia, states: An online dictionary of Irish slang confirms at least part (perhaps the most controversial) of the definition "Gee, Gee-box (n): female genitalia (hard G sound)". And further, from MacBain's Etymological Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic sìth.1 = a fairy, sìthich (do.), Irish sídh, a fairy hill, sígh, a fairy,
So there it is - corroborating evidence. Sídhe or Síth but all pronounced Shee can mean a Fairy as well as a fairy mound.
Let's bring the pieces of evidence together:
Shee = Sídhe = Fairy Woman
lena = with her
Gee = Irish slang for vagina.
Therefore: Sheela na Gig = Shee lena Gig = Shee lena Gee = Fairy Woman with her vagina.
And isn't that exactly what a Sheela na Gig is!! A Fairy woman with her vagina. Some have breasts, some don't. Some are on their hunkers..most are not. The common feature of all the Sheelas is that they expose their vaginas.
So now you know! It's Shee lena Gig.
Spread the word!