Caldragh Cemetery, Boa Island, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

The Janus Figure at Caldragh Cemetery, Boa Island

We left Dunluce Castle and the northern coast to begin our descent south and west. Our new route took us off of the “M” motorways—those broad, smoothly paved passages which extend from Dublin and Belfast across the eastern regions—and onto the network of narrow, winding roads that connect the rest of the island. Suddenly, our destinations seemed much further away.

Having swapped the great, straight swathes of pavement for slender, twisting lanes, we were also headed towards quieter and more secluded landmarks near the border of the two Irelands.

Our first stop was Caldragh Cemetery on Boa Island. A spit of earth along the northern edge of Lough Erne (aka, Lake Erne), Boa Island is accessible by car thanks to bridges connecting its central road to the mainland. The island is lovely in and of itself, but the primary draw for tourists is Caldragh Cemetery and its two mysterious inhabitants: the Janus Figure and the Lusty Man.

Lusty Man (foreground) and the Boa Island Janus Figure

To reach the cemetery, we turned off the main road onto what appeared to be a long, unpaved driveway. The lane terminated after about a mile beside rusting farming equipment and a small footpath. Even on a Saturday afternoon, ours was the only car around.

The site immediately impresses with the sheer lushness of its environment. Gnarled, ancient trees draped in vines encircle the clearing while bright blue, yellow, and white flowers punctuate a fluorescent landscape of broadleaf plants and long, soft grasses. The overall effect is one of a kind of quiet, bountiful life that only cemeteries seem to have.

Consistent with the natural understatedness of the site, the statues are almost indistinguishable from the tombstones around them. From a distance even the Janus Figure–the larger and better preserved of the sculptures–appears to be an only slightly grander grave marker. As its name implies, the Janus Figure (also known as the Boa Island Figure) consists of two back-to-back male faces. Its small, headless torso lies in the grass beside it.

The Lusty Man now sits a few feet away, but was originally discovered in a cemetery on the nearby Lusty Mor Island. It was moved to its current location in 1939. The exact ages, purposes, and identities of the figures are unknown, although both are probably pre-Christian.

Boa Island Janus Figure (foreground) and the back of the Lusty Man

Photos by Renée DeVoe Mertz, May 25, 2013.

Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle, panorama by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.

A few miles west of Giant’s Causeway, the skeletal remains of Dunluce Castle stand perched on a cliff along the North Channel. A deep ravine divides the site into two sections which are linked by a narrow, pedestrian bridge.

The side closest to the road held the stables and guest quarters (and now houses the visitor center), while the second area—with the buildings most precariously balanced over the sea—served as the primary residence.

Access to the buildings is only possible during certain hours and requires a small fee, but a steep, unguarded staircase to the side of the restricted area leads to the lowest point between the two sections. From here, visitors will find impressive views of the ruins and surrounding landscape, and can take a closer look at the small cave beneath the furthest outcropping.

Richard de Burgh or one of his followers probably built the original castle in the 13thcentury on the site of an earlier fort. However, it’s best known as the home of the McDonnells, chiefs of Antrim, who took control of the building after the Battle of Orla in 1565. Randall McDonnell, the second McDonnell lord at Dunluce, was responsible for erecting the manor house within the fortress’s walls. In 1639, part of the castle fell into the sea, taking the kitchen and cooks with it. The buildings were ultimately abandoned in 1690.

Photo by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.
Photo by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.
Photo by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.
Photo by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.
Photo by Joshua Albers, May 25, 2013.

Photos by Renée DeVoe Mertz, May 25, 2013, unless otherwise stated.

New York, Summer 2013

Nautilus Cup, Dutch (Utrecht), 1602. Nautilus shell, gilt silver. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Saint Sebastian, Austrian (Salzburg), 17th century. Ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Oracle Figure (Kafigeledjo), Senufo culture, Côte d’Ivoire, 19th – mid-20th century. Wood, iron, bone, porcupine quills, feathers, commercially woven fiber, organic material. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Terracotta Hadra hydra (water jar), Ptolemaic Crete, late 3rd century BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Dead Christ with Angels, Édouard Manet, 1864. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Amemo (Mask of Humankind), El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944), 2010. Aluminum and copper wire. Installation at the Brooklyn Museum.
Pierced Screen, Mughal India, second half of the 16th century. Red sandstone. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Marble funerary altar of Cominia Tyche, Roman, ca. 90–100 CE. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Peak (?), El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944), 2010. Installed at the Brooklyn Museum.
Central Governor, Saul Melman, 2010, installation with gold leaf and saliva, and Untitled, Matt Mullican, 1997. PS1, Queens.
Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer
Afrum I (White), James Turrell (American, b. 1943), 1967. Projected light. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
E 65th St. and Lexington
Line outside the Rain Room, MoMA, July 20, 2013
Rain Room, rAndom International (based in London), 2012. Installed in lot beside The Museum of Modern Art, West 54 St.
Ronin, James Turrell (American, b. 1943), 1968. LED light. Collection of the artist, on display at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Gli (Wall), El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944), 2010. Aluminum and copper wire. Installation at the Brooklyn Museum.
Detail from a Scene of the Legend of Saint Germain of Paris and the History of His Relics, Île-de-France, Paris, ca. 1245–47. Pot-metal and colorless glass with vitreous paint. The Cloisters.
Aten Reign, James Turrell (American, b. 1943), 2013. Rotunda, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Twisted Face Mask, Veracruz (Mexico), 600–900. Ceramic and pigment. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Reclining Nude, Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920), 1917. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Two Hands, Claudette Schreuders (b. 1973, Pretoria, South Africa), 2010. Jelutong wood, enamel, oil paint. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Terracotta comic actors, Greek, late 5th–early 4th century BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter and the Law to Saint Paul, Germany, Westphalia, 1150–1200. Elephant ivory. The Cloisters.
The Third-Class Carriage, Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–79), ca. 1862–64. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Atrium of the Greek and Roman Galleries, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Pair of ewers with wild men, Nuremberg (?), ca. 1500. Gilt silver, enamel, and paint. The Cloisters.
House exterior, Harlem
Cuxa Cloister, the Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park
Pool, Meg Webster, 2013. Installed at PS1, Queens.
Commemorative monument, Maya (Guatemala), first quarter of the 8th century. Limestone with traces of paint. Metropolitan Museum of Art, on loan from the Guatemalan government.
Eagle Attacking a Mountain Lion, Kawanabe Kyōsai (Japanese, 1831–89), 1885. Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Roundel with silver stain. The Cloisters.
Handle in the Shape of a Dragon’s Head, Eastern Han dynasty (China), 1st–2nd century. Gilded bronze with traces of red pigment. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Christ Child with an Apple, workshop of Michel Erhart (Ulm, Germany), ca. 1470–80. Willow with original paint and traces of gilding.
Space Womb, Long Island City, Queens
Colony, a77 (Argentinian). Installed in PS1, Queens.
Somewhere in Manhattan
5 Pointz, Long Island City, Queens, as seen from the 7 train
Tomb of Ermengol VII, Count of Urgell, Catalan, Lerida, ca. 1300–50. Limestone with traces of paint. The Cloisters.
Terracotta statuette of a grotesque man with a shield, Greek, 2nd–1st century BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Saint Roch, Normandy, France, early 16th century. Oak with paint and gilding. The Cloisters.
Beaker with Apes, South Lowlands, probably Burgundian Territories, ca. 1425–50. Silver, silver gilt, and painted enamel. The Cloisters.
Three Apes Assembling a Trestle Table, Germany (?), 1480–1500. Colorless glass with vitreous paint and silver stain. The Cloisters.
Ink Splash, El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944), 2010. Aluminum and copper wire. Installation at the Brooklyn Museum.
5 Pointz, Long Island City, Queens
Langon Chapel, The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park

All photographs by Renée DeVoe Mertz, July 19–21, 2013.