Ballyconnell (Tomregan)

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Feature Sets (2)


Church of Ireland graveyard, with a 12thc. carved stone in the grounds.


In the early 1960s the stone was moved from a ditch about half a mile from Tomregan and erected outside the Church of Ireland church at Ballyconnell. Although there is no definite proof of its provenance, the stone is reputed to have come from the parish of Tomregan where there are still traces of a church and round tower. During the 7thc. the Abbot of Tomregan was St Briccine, a famous surgeon.


Exterior Features


Carved stone

The triangular stone is carved with a male exhibitionist figure. There is a large head at the apex (h.0.3m) with a broken nose, high cheek bones and large, projecting ears. The face has a long jaw line and protruding upper lip. McNab points out the presence of a long, upward curling moustache, although this is hard to discern. The figure's shoulders are hunched up close to the face, and the long thin arms form a type of hood mould. The carving around the hands is worn, but individual fingers can still be made out. Features beneath the hands have been variously interpreted as snapping animal heads and skull-like heads. The figure's widely splayed legs are carved in very low relief with small pointed feet and straddle a round-headed opening. There is a narrow rebate around the opening and genitalia hang down at its apex. The opening splays from 0.21 m to 0.34 m toward the back, implying that the figure originally occupied the exterior of a window.

d. 0.33 m
h. 0.58 m
w. 0.89 m


Traditionally the carving is said to have come from the window of the round tower at Tomregan. If this was the case the carving would be unique in Ireland, as no other figure sculpture in Ireland is combined so thoroughly with an architectural feature. The nature of the carving is also unique whether as a male exhibitionist or (following McNab's interpretation) a soul being tormented in Hell.


  • J. Andersen, The Witch on the Wall, London and Copenhagen, 1977, 152.

  • A. Weir, 'Three carved figures in Co. Louth', County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society Journal, 19:1 (1977), 71.

  • H. Hickey, Images of Stone; Figure Sculpture of the Lough Erne Basin, Belfast, 1976, 62.

  • K. M. Dickie, 'Stone Figure from Tomregan, Co. Cavan' , Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 93 (1963), 198–9.

  • S. McNab, 'Twelfth Century Figure Sculpture in Ireland', PhD thesis, University of Dublin, 1987, 294–6.

  • O.Davis, "Some Churches in Co. Cavan", Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 78 (1948), 117.

  • S.McNab, 'From Tomregan to Inishcealtra: Irish Twelfth Century Stone Sculpture', Irish Arts Review, 13 (1997), 32-34.


Site Location
Ballyconnell (Tomregan)
National Grid Reference
H 27 18 
now: Cavan
Type of building/monument
Church of Ireland graveyard  
Report authors
Rachel Moss