Mystery surrounds the disappearance of a six-foot sculpture of a Celtic sea god that was designed by a Dungannon sculptor.
The £10,000 creation Manannán Mac Lir overlooked Benone Beach, Magilligan, Limavady and Donegal and was part of Limavady’s sculpture trail.
The statue had became a popular tourist attraction in the area since its installation about a year ago.
Sculptor John Sutton, who is from the White City area of Dungannon and based at the local enterprise centre, said he was shocked by the theft.
Those who made off with the sea god left a wooden cross with the words ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ in its place.
Darren, who helps create the Game of Thrones stage sets, said it would have taken a number of men with angle grinders several hours to remove the figure from its base.
“I’m very disturbed by this,” he said. “It’s unreal.
“Some statues are stolen for their bronze. But this was cut down at the base and the materials would not have been worth stealing.
“I made it out of clay first and then a silicone mould, before I cast it. It took me months and months to make and five or six men to carry it up there and install it. It was very heavy and would have taken a long time to remove.”
Manannán Mac Lir is a sea deity in Irish mythology and is also said to have been the first ruler of the Isle of Man.
Manand is the old Irish name for the Isle of Man and as his surname suggests, he was the son of Lir, meaning sea.
“I was very proud of this. It was very popular with photographers,” he said.
According to Limavady Borough Council’s website, people in the area believe that the spirit of Manannán Mac Lir at Gortmore Viewing Point is released during fierce storms.
Some elderly folk in the area are still heard to remark “Manannán is angry today,” when the River Foyle is rough and refer to the angry waves as “Manannán’s seahorses.”