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Two Green Men, ancient symbols of the wild wood, found lurking in the UCC Quad today (window and door finials on the North and West Wings).

I must have walked through the North Tower hundreds of times when I worked at UCC, but somehow never noticed the two gargoyles high up on either side facing the Quad. Admittedly, they’re a bit shy and retiring compared to those on St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral (which has full bragging rights on gargoyles in Cork City), but I’m sure they do the job perfectly well nonetheless.

Similarly, I’d never noticed that the four ‘Guardian Angels’ (two on either side of the North Tower entrances) are all in fact, subtly different from each other. The crowned ‘V’ on their escutcheons presumably represents Queen Victoria, somehow surviving the bout of Republican Iconoclasm which saw the toppling of her statue from the Aula Max in the 1930’s.

I’ve always loved the little owl who lives on the West Wing. At least I think it’s supposed to be an owl – there seems to be more than a trace of parrot in its genetics by the look of it. I assume it’s meant to represent the ‘Owl of Minerva’, the ancient symbol of learning, wisdom etc., but it has a certain, shall we say, lack of gravitas? I can’t help but think of Bubo, Ray Harryhausen’s mechanical owl from ‘Clash of the Titans’.

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