Anger as ornamental dove removed from Long Tower gates

A Derry primary school is appealing for the safe return of a cherished 100 year old ornamental dove callously ripped from its school gates.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:28 pm
It's believed the metal dove was torn from a pillar at the entrance gates to St Columba's PS, Long Tower during the summer holidays.

The treasured metal decoration was hacked from a stone pillar at the entrance to the listed Long Tower PS buildings in the grounds of St Columba’s Church. It is the former location of the old Long Tower Girls’ PS.

The school heirloom depicts the dove with a sprig of oakleaf in its beak.

It’s understood it went missing during the school summer holidays. Its absence was only noticed when the school reopened last month.

A close-up of the ornamental dove that remains in situ.

A matching dove, located on a facing pillar, remains in situ.

Both the dove and oakleaf are historic emblems long associated with Derry and, in particular, its patron saint, St Columba.

In the Irish language, Columba’s name means dove.

A school spokesperson said it was very disappointed to discover the dove had been removed from the entrance gates.

“Our school is more than 100 years old and we take great pride in maintaining our building to the highest standard,” she said.

“It is so sad to see one of the pillars at the school gates missing its dove which had been there for years and years.

“It is of special historical significance to not only the school but the wider Long Tower district.”

Its disappearance has been met with dismay and anger among the public.

One person, writing on social media, said: ‘It’s a disgrace that some people can’t leave things alone.’

Another added: ‘How could someone do this? It was there a lifetime.”

A Facebook user said to remove anything from church grounds was disgraceful.

“Is nothing sacred anymore?”, they asked. “How low can you go - stealing from church grounds.”

Anyone with information relating to the removal or current whereabouts of the ornamental dove is asked to contact Long Tower PS on Tel: 02871 261484.