Patrick Carberry, a full-time pagan priest, feels that the recent theft of a historic statue from the Gortmore Viewing Point on the Binevenagh Mountain, Limavady (Northern Ireland) should be deemed a religious hate crime against people of his faith.
The statue of Manannán Mac Lir, the Celtic God of Sea, has been on top of the mountain since 2013. Left in the place of the statue was a cross inscribed with the words “'Thou shalt have no other gods but me.”
“Paganism is the original religion of this land,” said Carberry. “People are afraid to admit that they have these beliefs because they might lose their jobs. We worship many gods and goddesses. In Ireland, we are associated with the Celtic gods. Manannán would fall into that category.
“If a pagan stole a statue from a Christian church and left a pagan one in its place it would make world news,” he added. “The theft is a great loss to the local community. It was great to see such a statue and tribute to the old way of our land. They hide in the night, in the darkness and steal. They are nothing but cowards. If they were truly religious they would stand up and say proudly I did this in the name of God. But that won’t happen because the world would see them for what they are – thieves, cowards.”
Police are in the process of investigating the theft, which has angered and disturbed surrounding locals. “Local people are extremely angry that this statue has been taken,” said Gerry Mullan, former mayor of Limavady.” “It really enhanced what is already a beautiful spot from which visitors and residents alike can sit and enjoy the view and I would appeal to whoever took the statue to give it back." Mullan also claims this was a premeditated theft rather than a random act of vandalism.
There are four other statues across the Roe Valley in addition to the Manannán Mac Lir statue which were placed as a part of the Sculpture Trail in 2013, which aimed to boost tourism in the local area. The remaining four pieces of artwork were neither touched nor harmed.
Police will continue to appeal for information from locals to find the thieves.