The vast waters of Lough Erne covers around one third of County Fermanagh. In the early medieval period this winding lake was used as an important connection between central Ireland and the Atlantic Ocean. There are over a hundred islands in Lough Erne, many of them have extraordinary stories to tell, including Boa Island in the northern part of Lower Lough Erne.
Boa is a long and narrow island, that is now connected to the mainland by a road-bridge at each end. According to the excellent resource The Northern Ireland Place-Name Project, the name Boa Island derives from Inis Badhbha, meaning ‘Badhbh’s Island’. In Irish mythology, Badhbh is the name of a war goddess, though the original meaning of badhbh was ‘carrion crow’, again suggestive of war.
Caldragh Cemetery, Boa Island
On the island you can find a small, pleasant if rather nondescript graveyard called Caldragh Cemetery. But standing incongruously amongst the 19th & 20th century headstones, are two remarkable figures. A larger two-sided stone figure known as the Dreenan Figure, and a smaller single-sided figure known as the Lustymore Man.
The 19th century painter and antiquarian George Victor Du Noyer recorded the Dreenan Figure in 1841 in a series of pencil sketches, but it was Dorothy Lowry-Corry who first brought the remarkable sculptures to the attention of academia in 1933, there was a tradition that there was still the ruins of a church visible in Caldragh Cemetery in 1822, though no visible remains of an early foundation beyond the very faint trace of an enclosure that you can just about make out curving around the northern side of the cemetery on Google Maps Satellite View.
When Dorothy found the Dreenan Figure, it was partially sunk into the ground in a tangle of bushes. It was later moved to its present location and placed on a plinth. Around this time a second figure was taken from the disused Christian graveyard on the neighbouring island of Lustymore and eventually placed next to the Dreenan Figure in Caldragh Cemetery for safekeeping, after a spell in the home of Lady Ernestine Hunt.
For more on the possible origin of these figures please see below the gallery.