Search for $5 million moon rock in North Dublin garbage dump
Gift from US space program to Ireland got thrown out by accident
There's gold in that there dump. Or at least there's a genuine moon rock, now estimated to be worth about $5 million dollars. How it got there, into a city dump on the north side of Dublin, is a long story but with the nation facing an unprecedented recession interest in finding it again has exploded.
The story begins in 1972, towards the end of the Apollo 17 mission with Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, the last two men to set foot on the Moon since the early 1970's.
Picking up a moon rock about the size of a brick Schmitt said: 'We'd like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world.'
So Schmitt brought it home to earth. Shortly after the then President Richard Nixon ordered the rock be broken up and that fragments be sent to 135 foreign heads of state. Ireland was one of the beneficiaries. Each moon rock was mounted on a wooden plaque with the recipient nations' flag attached.
Ireland's little bit o' the moon made its way to Dunsink Observatory in Dublin. Sadly, after interesting in the Apollo program waned the rock languid in a rarely visited setting. Then fate took a cruel turn, the Observatory burned to the ground in 1977.
In a BBC report Doctor Ian Elliot, who worked there at the time, said: 'I heard about the fire on the morning news. I can tell you, that was a bit of a shock. My main concern was with the disruption to the work of the observatory. It was only afterwards that we realized that the bit of Apollo 11 moon rock could not be found. It was gathered up with all of the other debris and dumped in the municipal dump which was conveniently just across the road.'
Now that Ireland's facing an unprecedented banking crisis, interest in finding the rock again has spiked.
Doctor Elliot agreed they would have done things differently if they had known its value: 'If we'd had any perception of the rock's value, perhaps all of the debris would have been sifted by archaeologists and it might have been found.'
Now that word of the valuable hidden treasure has spread locals are anticipating an army of metal detector wielding visitors will soon take over the Finglas dump.
News of the reinvigorated search has delighted Joseph Gutheinz Jr, a Texas lawyer and former Nasa agent who is now known as the 'moon rock hunter.' He told Joe.ie: 'I love the story about the Ireland moon rock - that pot of gold under a dump.'
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