Northern Ireland

Manannán Mac Lir: Games of Thrones sculptor's statue found

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Media captionThe statue was found 300 metres from its original position

A six-feet sculpture of a Celtic sea god that was stolen from Binevenagh Mountain, near Limavady, in County Londonderry has been recovered by soldiers on a training exercise.

Manannán Mac Lir, which is made out of fibre glass and stainless steel was stolen last month.

The Ministry of Defence has said it was located by members of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Police said a group of ramblers spotted the statue and alerted the soldiers.

The statue was installed last year and was a popular tourist attraction.

Alan Robinson, the mayor of Limavady, said police told him there seemed to be some damage to the statue.

"The police officer in question said there appeared to be some damage around its head and whether or not that could be repaired was a matter for a sculptor to determine," he said.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence said: "Soldiers from 2nd Batallion Royal Irish Regiment were deployed by helicopter to the north Antrim Coast last night for a weekend exercise.

Image copyright PSNI press office
Image caption Police released photographs of the statue taken before the theft and appealed for information

"Whilst trekking through Binevenagh forest near Magilligan Strand they discovered the missing statue and immediately alerted the PSNI.

'Detached'

"The Ministry of Defence is delighted this unique statue has been found."

Sergeant Major Wallace Mehaffey said the statue was found 300 metres from its original position and was badly damaged.

He said the base of it had been "ripped off its mount" and part of the head was detached.

"We were approached by a group of ramblers and they told us they had found what appeared to be the said statue, because it has fallen down the side of a rocky outcrop I would say some 50 to 70 metres, it is damaged to the back of the head," he added.

Police said they were pleased the statue had been recovered and appealed to anyone with information about its theft to contact them.

They said a group of ramblers spotted the statue and alerted the soldiers.

Those who stole the statue last month left a wooden cross with the words "You shall have no other gods before me" in its place.

Sculptor John Sutton, who has worked on the Game of Thrones television series, said that it would have taken a number of men with angle grinders several hours to remove the £10,000 figure from its base.

The theft prompted a campaign for its safe return, and led to a 'missing persons appeal' by police.

Earlier this month, Limavady Borough Council had voted to replace the stolen artwork with a sculpture "as similar to the original as possible".

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