At last I have made it to White Island. I took the White Island Ferry for ¬£3 Sterling, which gives you about 40 minutes or so on the island. To be honest you don't need much more than that, but it would be great to hire a boat so that you could spend as long as you liked looking at the marvellous and engmatic figures.
The figures stand inside a ruined church, which still has a nice, but fairly plain Romanesque doorway. There are seven figures in all and a carved head. One of the figures is unfinished. Fastened to the wall of the surrounding enclosure is a Clonmacnoise style cross slab.
A lot has been written about these figures and their age and origins are uncertain. T.C. Lethbridge suggested that they are Celtic in origin, but this seems unlikely. However, one of the figures does have the same pattern carved down its side as can be found on the more famous Celtic 'Janus' figure at Boa Island Figures (County Fermanagh).
The smallest of the figures is considered by some to be a Sheela-na-Gig. This is possible. Its style is certainly different to the rest of the carvings and it may not belong to the set.
Other figures are interpreted as Christ in different forms (see photos for more).
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White Island Ferries operate from the Castle Archdale Marina. They operate between 11am & 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from April to June. From July to the end of August they operate between the same times daily. Allow one and a half hours for the trip.
This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.
Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.
Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.
The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.
UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.
ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.