New 'Oliver the Owl' sculpture proving a popular attraction at Cullion

A NEW wood carving created by a local man is proving hugely popular.

'Oliver the Owl' is now standing proudly at the junction of the Gortmellon Road and Duncastle Road at Cullion between Donemana and Newbuildings.

The brainchild of 'The Owl Man' Stanley McCombe, who lives close to the junction, the new sculpture replaces one which has stood at the junction for around 12 years but which had weathered badly.

Speaking to the Strabane Weekly News, Stanley explained: "About 12 years ago I took a notion to put something at the bottom of the road that would be nice for people to look at and better than a pile of pallets.

"I came up with the idea of a wood carving. I got a tree over in Kildoag and contacted a man in Buncrana called James McSparran - better known as 'The Red Squirrel' and he said, 'no problem'."

The carving was constructed and placed at the junction and became a much-loved part of the local landscape.

Unfortunately, over the years the sculpture became weathered.

"The timber was sycamore - not a great timber - but it lasted 11 years. Then unfortunately, it rotted away. People were sad to see it go as it was a great landmark," Stanley continued.

"I decided to get another one so I contacted The Red Squirrel and he advised me to get an oak tree. I found one at Pellipar in Dungiven that came from the late Seamus Heaney's estate, Bellaghy.

"I got it on the trailer and took it to James in Buncrana. He got to work on it and a new owl was on its way to Cullion.

"Lexie Thompson's JCB set 'Oliver' up on his perch and Roger Laird constucted a new platform."

Stanley explained the venture was made possible also due to the generosity of local business.

"This enterprise cost a few pounds with help from the Carricktane Wind farm manager, Malcolm Burns, local pub The Village Inn, Donemana and local neighbours.

"I wish to thank everyone who helped me complete my dream the second time around.

"Your landmark should be here for a long time - Enjoy it!!

The beautiful sculpture, which has proved a popular attraction since its grand unveiling, is located on the road between Donemana and Newbuilings - BT47 2SW.

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