Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone


I did my apprenticeship on the comedy circuit around London and then decided to turn it into a one woman show to take to the Edinburgh Festival. I DID not want to continue on the circuit as it is lonely and not welcoming to an older, female- a bit of a freak- as I ticked the diversity boxes. The nicest comedian I encountered was Harry Hill and the nastiest Ian Cognito.

After the first few days in Edinburgh I was also cured of the idea of being a solo performer and didn’t enjoy hanging around all day for an evening performance.

Then I tried working as a group – women as TWO WIVES AND A SPINSTER and with three Irish comedians as THE CRACK PACK.  Again, the coordinating of calenders and the promotional work became too tedious. I just didn’t have the fire in my belly/need to perform strong enough. I didn’t have the passion or commitment but I enjoyed the whole experience and glad I tried it. I appreciated getting the reviews from the Edinburgh festival and the 4 stars ****  it’s something to tell the grandchildren.

Sheela-na-Gig. “The Irish female Rab C. Nesbitt.” Scotland on Sunday.

Sheela-na-Gig. “Carnal comedy as the hilarious Irish comic lures you into her erogenous zone”.

Sheela-na-Gig. “Bawdy, very funny and hard-hitting”  The Galway Advertiser.


Sheela-na-Gig  (Calton Centre)

Comedy ****

The title of this ribald one-woman show refers to the masturbating female figures found on cornerstones on castles and churches all over Ireland, medieval assaults on male conceit and prudery.

Jeanne Egan is their modern-day counterpart. Her hour-long monologue explores vanity and hypocrisy in a fiercely funny way. Egan, originally from the west of Ireland now based in London, is an alcohol counsellor by day. She has a perceptive eye and attuned ear for the ridiculous.

Minimal props, a penis-shaped false nose and some Playboy pin-ups are used to devastating effect. If male virility is your thing, you had better avoid this show, though it could be exactly what you need.

Hayden Murphy. THE SCOTSMAN


“Sheela-na-Gig, an ancient female, masturbating stone carving is the starting point and role model for a menopausal Irishwoman who is an alcohol counsellor by day.

Exuding a certain laid-back confidence, she takes the sit-down, Dave Allen approach to comedy, but her show packs as much punch as the strutting style of most male stand-ups.

The hypocrisy and arrogance of the Catholic Church, sex education, D.H. Lawrence and the Bible are targeted and shown no mercy as she illustrates her arguments with a novelty penis, a pair of high heels and some gloriously technicolour male pin-ups.”  Gill Roth THE LIST.


SHORT  BAC AND SIDES- At BAC they call this the ‘definitive’ preview of Edinburgh comedy and it’s the biggest and oldest.

“Sheela-na-Gig (Jeanne Rathbone) is an acquired taste, but certainly different: a loud, lewd, middle-aged Irish woman who takes her name from pagan figures found across Ireland depicting masturbating women. Ireland, booze and sex are her themes” EVENING STANDARD.


“A Norwegian film crew, rain drumming off the marquee and rivulets running underfoot set the bizarre scene for Jeanne Egan’s opening performance of “Sheela-na-Gig’ at Taylors Bar.

Perhaps none other than a Scandanavian TV crew could dwell upon the incongruities of two millenia of western development as brought out here . They just happended to be exploring the Sheela-na-Gig phenomenon after discovering some figures in their home country.

P.S. Wearing ties not recommended.

Connaught Tribune.


Sheela-na-Gig:”Dwi’n ganol oed, yn ferch ac yn Wyddeles…

Dwi’n teimlo fel freak.

GOLWOG- a Welsh Magazine.

We did a gig at the Cheltenham Fringe Festival. Cheltenham has a reputation as a sedate, middle-England, provincial town ( except when the Irish invade for the horse racing ). We did very much appreciate the letter from the festival booker.  It was, of course, Sheela-na-Gig who delivered the ‘pretty uncompromising material’.

LUTON 1993

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