An iconic statue depicting an Irish sea god has been found by ramblers a month to the day since it was hacked down and stolen.
The Manannán mac Lir statue made international headlines after being removed from its location at Gortmore Viewing Point overlooking Lough Foyle on Binevenagh mountain on January 21st.
The life-like fibre-glass figure with had been carted off from the scene, sparking a major search operation, and even offers of rewards for its return.
A passenger-by noticed its disappearance and alerted the authorities.
In an intriguing twist, in place of the Celtic god, the vandals responsible had left a wooden cross featuring the words from the Old Testament Ten Commandments: ‘You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me...’.
PSNI Area Commander Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said on Saturday that he was delighted that the statue had been found and that it could have lain for years without being detected.
He added: “I am pleased to confirm that the missing statue of Manannan Mac Lir which was stolen from the Bishops Road area of Magilligan was found by ramblers earlier today.
“The ramblers advised members of A company 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment soldiers who helped Police recover the statue.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the local community and everyone involved in its recovery today.”
He added: “I would still appeal to anyone who has any information about the theft of this statue to contact Police at Limavady on the non-emergency number 101. Of, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111”.
Chief Inspector Hutton said the property would be returned to its owners, Limavady Borough Council.
Back in January, sculptor John Darren Sutton, who has worked on the award winning ‘Games of Thrones’ series, told the ‘Journal’ he was shocked the popular piece of art, which took six months to craft, had been removed.
The sea god was thought to have cost in the region of £10,000.
Councillor Gerry Mullan said he was delighted that the statue had been found and that he is hoping that not too much damage has been done to it.