After a remarkable series of events, a treasure trove of Early Bronze Age gold has gone on
display in Ireland for the first time.
Police officers recovered the ancient artifacts in 2009, after they were tossed in a dumpster along with the stolen safe they had been kept in at Sheehan’s Pharmacy in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon.
It is believed that the thieves had failed to notice the 5,000-year-old gold hidden among documents when they dumped out the contents of the safe.
Speaking at the opening of a new exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland, Minister for Arts, Jimmy Deenehan, said: “An extraordinary series of unlikely events led to the discovery of the most significant hoard of Early Bronze Age gold work from Ireland for many years. From an archaeological perspective this hoard is of great significance."
The collection – consisting of a gold crescent shaped collar and two small gold discs – was originally discovered by Hubert Lannon while he was digging in a bog in 1945.
Two years later, he gave the artifacts to the Sheehan family, who kept them locked in their pharmacy’s safe for over sixty years.
President of the National Museum of Ireland, Tony Candon, explained, “The family knew over the years that they had something valuable and important. They treated it as a family heirloom and it had been at the back of their minds. But then when the safe was stolen, it occurred to them the gold was inside. That's when they got in touch with the museum about it.”
“Those thieves missed out big time when they unknowingly threw this treasure away," he said.
The exhibition will run in the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, until next summer, when it will be moved to the main National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.