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The two statues in the graveyard at Boa Island.
The two statues in the graveyard at Boa Island.

Boa Island, Co Fermanagh

In the ancient cemetery at Caldragh on Boa Island in County Fermanagh, two extremely unusual and mysterious carved figures, possibly from the Iron Age, stand within the small enclosure.

The larger figure is known as the Janus stone, as it has two faces. The east side, facing the sunrise is engraved with a bearded figure who seems to be speaking. He has his arms crossed over his chest in what could be described an Egyptian posture.

At some stage, the statue was broken, and the carving is now set on a concrete stump. In recent years lower portions of the figures, which included very large hands, almost like wings, were discovered in the graveyard. The site is easy to find, being signposted from the road, and is only a short walk from the carpark. The setting of these monuments, overlooking Lough Erne, can be quite mystical in the damp foggy weather that rolls in off the lake.

“January God”

by Seamus Heaney

    Then I found a two faced stone
    On burial ground,
    God-eyed, sex-mouthed, it’s brain
    A watery wound.
    In the wet gap of the year,
    Daubed with fresh lake mud,
    I faltered near his power —
    January God.
    Who broke the water, the hymen
    With his great antlers —
    There reigned upon each ghost tine
    His familiars,
    The mothering earth, the stones
    Taken by each wave,
    The fleshy aftergrass, the bones
    Subsoil in each grave.
Boa Island, Bing Maps
Boa Island viewed in Bing Maps.