The Celtic sea god sculpture that was stolen from Binevenagh mountain in County Derry is to be replaced at a cost of almost £10,000.
The fibre glass sculpture by John Darren Sutton from Dungannon disappeared from Binevenagh Mountain outside Limavady in January.
Those who stole the statue left a wooden cross in its place with the words ‘YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME’. The statue was found 300 metres from its original location one month later by the Bannside ramblers.
Sculptor, John Darren Sutton, who has worked on the award winning ‘Games of Thrones’ series, said he was shocked the popular piece of art, which took six months to craft, had been removed in the first place.
“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 had been a labour of love.
“I worked on that night and day, every day, all hours. It’s brutal,” he said.
Commissioned by Limavady Borough Council at a cost of approximately £10,000, the statue suffered extensive damage, including to the back of its head.
News of its disappearance fascinated people around the world and made global headlines. A Facebook page dedicated to its return was set up, attracting followers from around the world.
The 6 ft statue of Manannán Mac Lir was recovered by members of Bannside rambling group last month.
However, attempts to repair the statue had failed.
Limavady councillor Gerry Mullan said the decision to fund a new statue was unanimous.
It was the last ever meeting of Limavady Borough Council before its amalgamation into the new Causeway Coast and Glens super council.
The artist who created the sculpture in the first place decided that it was unrepairable, thus our decision last night that we replace it with another sculpture of similar type,” Mr Mullan said.
“The only difference is that there will be some extra materials included to make it more vandal proof because the sculpture is of such significance to us in terms of its pulling power as a tourist attraction.”
Mr Mullan added that it would take some time for the new statue to be completed.
“It is a major piece of work so I would imagine you won’t see anything for at least six months.”