The sculptor behind one of Limavady’s iconic myths and legends statues says he is shocked and disappointed someone would go to so much effort to sabotage it.
Manannán mac Lir (the Celtic god of the sea), situated at Gortmore Viewing Point on Binevenagh mountain, was reported missing on Wednesday morning by a passerby. All that remains of the fibre glass sculpture overlooking Lough Foyle is the boat.
Sculptor John Darren Sutton, who has worked on the award-winning Games of Thrones series, told the Derry Journal he was shocked the popular piece of art, which took six months to craft, had been removed.
“I just can’t believe it,” said the Dungannon artist. That would take some effort to remove it because it has a stainless steel inside to give it strength so it would be hard to get through. I just can’t believe they took it down.”
Mr Sutton, who also did the May McFettridge bust for the Opera House in Belfast, said the sea god, thought to cost in the region of £10,000, had been a labour of love.
“I worked on that night and day, every day, all hours. It’s brutal,” he said.
Those who made off with the sea god left a wooden cross with the words ‘YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME ...”
Mr Sutton said if it was taken for religious reasons, why couldn’t the perpetrators have put the cross on the ground rather than target the sculpture.
“If they knew how much work went into it,” he said. “It’s really popular and there are so many pictures of it. I don’t think whoever did this is interested in selling it on, because you can’t melt it down. I hope it can be found and it’s not too badly damaged.”
Valerie Richmond, director of development services at Limavady council, said: “I was shocked to hear the news. The sculpture at Gortmore has proven to be very popular among both locals and tourists, depicting one of the many myths and legends so important to the area.”
Sinn Fein councillor Anne Brolly said she was disappointed the vandalism had happened and believes the theft was well planned.
“Hopefully it can be replaced but really it is just another case of wanton vandalism,” she said.
SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan said: “I am absolutely shocked. It’s ridiculous some religious zealot would do this. It’s part of our folklore. I just can’t believe it,” he said.
At the viewing point on Wednesday locals had gathered, keen to see what had happened, including Owen Anderson from Magilligan.
“The god is gone and it’s crazy to think someone did this. This has been a myth that’s part of our folklore and a focal point for tourists and for someone to take it away and go to such lengths because of their belief, well, I feel sad for them,” said Owen.
A Limavady Borough Council spokesperson said the theft has been reported and police are investigating.