Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Unionists left hissing over Limavady mythical trail that ‘ignores’ their culture

Unionists are angry at what they see as the exclusion of their culture in a new tourism initiative.

A notorious highwayman, a legendary giant snake and a sea god form part of a culture trail that will lead visitors through the Roe Valley around Limavady.

But the omission of the town’s founding father and a world-|famous citizen, both from the unionist tradition, has sparked criticism.

The Explore See Do Sculpture Trail, which encompasses seven sites in the borough, is the council's keystone tourism project that brings to life local myths and legends in a series of sculptures.

While the guide includes references and sculptures relating to the O’Cahan Clan, it does not mention William Massey, a Limavady native who went on to become Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Nor does the guide refer to Sir Thomas Phillips, the founding father of Limavady town, a move described as “shocking” by local unionists.

The UUP’s Arron Callan said: “I was delighted to hear Limavady Borough Council were going to place a number of sculptures around the borough to represent the legends and myths of the area.

“However, when I looked at the booklet for the trail I was shocked and angered that William Massey, whose statue sits outside the council offices, arguably Limavady’s most famous son, was left out. I was more shocked that the man who founded the town as we know it today, and is the reason we are celebrating 400 years of a Royal Charter this year, was also left out. Sir Thomas Phillips was crucial to the development of the town and to leave him out is a disgrace, he most certainly fits the criteria of ‘legend’.

“I hope whoever came up with the trail will re-examine this and bring these two very historically important people into this trail.

“If Danny Boy, which was written by an Englishman, can be included, why not Massey and Phillips?”

A Limavady Borough Council spokeswoman denied the criticism, saying: “The Sculpture Trail is about celebrating stories, not people. Massey is a memorial, not a myth or legend.”

Artists Maurice Harron, Alan Carg, Eleanor Wheeler and John Darren Sutton produced the pieces which decorate the valley.

The Musical Harp depicting Rory Dall O’Cahan and The Lament of the O’Cahans can be found at Gortmore, while the imposing figure of Mananan Mac Lir, God of the Sea, and the Broighter Gold Hoard stands at Benevenagh Mountain.

Elsewhere in Largantea, a representation of the notorious highwayman Cushy Glen can be found.

A sculpture depicting the Leap of the Dog from which the town takes its name is in Roe Valley Country Park, and in Feeney village visitors encounter an intimidating piece — Lig-na-Paiste, the last serpent in Ireland.

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