20Thomas O'Connor, Neagh, 3 October 1840; in John O'Donovan, Letters containing information relative to the Antiquities of the County of Tipperary Collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1840. RIA Dublin, handwritten MS. Quoted in Freitag, Barbara. Sheela-Na-Gigs Unraveling an Enigma. New York: Routledge, 2004. 16-17.
O'Connor thought the figure may have had a pagan origin, since if it had been carved during Christian times "it would owe its origin to the wantonness of some loose mind." Freitag writes, "The lengthy letter which he sent to Dublin is a charming testimony to his baffled confusion. O'Conor admits to being completely mystified as to why this 'ill excuted [sic] piece of sculpture', rudely done by an unskillful artist, should be placed at a house of public worship when it so blatantly impresses the 'grossest idea of immorality and licentiousness ... being in its way in direct opposition to the sentiment of . . . people professing the Christian faith'. As it seemed incongruous that the figure had been set up in its present situation for producing any good effect on the minds of a Christian congregation, he could only assume that it was never intended to be placed in the church. He speculated that it must have belonged originally to another building, a castle perhaps, and that it was laid in its present situation 'by some one [sic] who delighted in inconsistencies' after the church had been abandoned as a place of worship. If that were not the case, the figure owed its origin 'to the wantonness of some loose mind.'"
Sadly, the sheela-na-gig O'Connor describes, at Kiltinane Church, Co. Tipperary, was stolen in 1990. A photograph of the sculpture may be seen here.