Just outside Ballyvourney is a pilgrimage spot dating from the 6th century and founded by St. Gobnait (a woman). These pilgrimage spots are all over the place and have signs with a prescribed set of "stations" and prayers to say at each station. There are many ruins there, including a very ruined old convent site, a Catholic church, also roofless and in ruins, and a later Anglican church (the English banned Catholicism in about the 17th century until the 1800's, making the English church the only permitted religion. The entire area around the ruined Catholic church, as well as inside it(!), is a cemetery still in use. Any headstones prior to 1900 seem to be so weathered as to be invisible or illegible. However, it was quite moving to see all those family names listed above in this graveyard - the people who stayed and did not immigrate to America.
However, Anne had a further quest here - finding the Sheela-na-gig on the ruined church, as described in a catalog of Sheelas in Ireland and Britain. These are now thought to be medieval carvings, by amateurs (i.e. regular people), addressing pagan concerns about the birth and death cycle.The Sheela is a naked female, with the upper half portrayed as an old woman, and the lower half rather enlarged and sometimes giving birth. All the known examples are different from each other. (Look this up on the internet if you want to know more - but you can imagine what the Victorians thought when they noticed these figures in the 19th century!) So after walking around the ruined church, both inside and out, and consulting her guidebook, Anne found the Sheela on a lintel, outside, over a window on the south side of the ruined church.
Many of these pilgrimage sites have a "holy well", where there are coffee mugs turned upside down for the pilgrim to use for a drink of the holy water. There were two of these holy wells at St. Gobnait's.
We drove back down the road to Macroom, a considerably bigger town, where we also walked around and photographed Murray's Bar and Twomey's Butcher Shop.