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Caldragh Idols

On Boa Island on Lough Erne, in the mournful Caldragh graveyard, stand two unique carved stone idols, reminiscent of the era before Christianity reached the shores of Ireland.

These two-sided figures, named Janus and Lustymore, were not always together, but were placed side-by-side here in 1939, presumably because of their similarity. Though the graveyard itself dates from the early Christian period, scholars believe that both figures independently depict pagan gods that worshipped during or before those times.

The "Janus" -- so-named because of its two faces, front and back -- is a strange looking figure, with a large head, even larger eyes, and crossed arms. It wears a woven belt and has a hole at its top that can indicate a missing part or may be a receptacle for blood offerings in a pagan ritual.

The Lustymore idol, so-named because it was transported here from nearby Lustymore Island, is the smaller and slightly less remarkable of the two. It's worn features are deceptive, however, and in fact may indicate that it is older than the larger monument.  With its arms lying across its torso in a v-shape, some historians have suggested that it may even be a precursor to the unusual Sheela-na-gig symbol, found mainly in Ireland and Scotland.

Standing in the mist in this desolate place, the two make a captivating and memorable site that is worth tracking down.

Coin Offerings

A superstition that has been carried down through the centuries, and continues on to this day, involves people leaving offerings to these gods. These days, the offerings takes the form of coins (see image, top), which usually take the form of small coins.  

Images

  • Caldragh icons - Janus in background,  Lustymore in foreground. Image by Jon Sullivan.
  • Lustymore icon. Image by Yabba You.

 

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