A statue of Manannán Mac Lir on Binevenagh Mountain in Ireland, near Limavady in County Londonderry, was recently stolen. Really this is an act of desecration as a cross was left in its place with that all-too familiar message of militant monotheism, ‘you shall have no other gods before me’. It’s not a bad time to reflect on how early Christianity spread in massive acts of destruction of sacred artworks, groves and temples. We admire the beauty of classical statuary that have eyes gouged out, heads and limbs missing, and don’t think about how they came to be defaced.
The sculptor John Sutton has worked on the TV productions of Game of Thrones. Since the media has framed this in headlines like ‘Game of Thrones sea god’, at first notice I had no idea this was of Manannán Mac Lir. Sad that someone would vandalize a sculpture of the sea cult of the Iron Islands, let’s say, but art is being attacked by stupid people all the time. Then I came back and saw it was Manannán Mac Lir, which was not mentioned in the headlines I saw!
Interesting that the article mentions that the elderly people in the locale still associate Manannán with storms, as Manannán was remembered in folklore on the west coast of Ireland into recent times as a stirrer of the sea who created storms according to Charles William MacQuarrie in his dissertation, “A Study of the Literary Representations of Manannán Mac Lir from Immram Brain (c.700) to Finnegan’s Wake (1939)”.
So better still, not just recent but presently and I’m gladdened to hear that.
“Some elderly folk in the area are still heard to remark “Manannán is angry today,” when the River Foyle is rough and refer to the angry waves as “Manannán’s seahorses.” I see they didn’t get His boat though.
Update: An article in the Belfast Telegraph emphasizes that this was not vandalism, but an act of Christian fundamentalist hate. Former Limavady mayor Gerry Mullan said the theft was premeditated and was not a random act of vandalism. He said: “Local people are extremely angry that this statue has been taken. 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.”
Red waves may rise high,
strength of sea, strength of ocean,
rising and foaming in red fury.
Also the new issue of Air n-Aithesc will be out soon at Imbolc, in which I have an article, “Manannán’s Stirrings: Eddies of Creation?”
Air n-Aithesc http://ciannai2.wix.com/air-n-aithesc