Earlier this week, Denis Russell, 59, was trimming the hedges outside his holiday cottage in Co. Wicklow when he came across a most remarkable discovery.
When he saw a black garbage bag nestled in a ditch, he assumed it was filled with trash – a nuisance that has happened before.
But when he opened the bag, he found quite the opposite: four paintings by famous Irish artists.
The paintings - 'Portrait of a Lady' by Sir John Lavery, 'Landscape with Cottage' by Paul Henry, 'The Fern in the Area' by Jack B. Yeats, and a portrait of Samuel Beckett by Tom Byrne – had been reported stolen from a house in Donard, Co. Wicklow last October.
They are worth an estimated $200,000 (€180,000) and have been displayed in Dublin in the past.
Russell, who lives in London but has a holiday cottage in his native Co. Wicklow, told RTE’s "Drivetime" that the house that was burglarized last year is only two fields away from his. He added that it looked as though the bag had been thrown into the ditch from the road – raising the possibility that the paintings may have been sitting there for the past 10 months.
One of the paintings had a damaged frame, and another had signs of mildew on the canvas.
After making his big discovery, Russell took the paintings inside, where his wife confirmed that they were indeed likely the stolen paintings.
“People often throw their rubbish over my ditch. I saw a black rubbish bag in the bush and thought ‘another one’ and pulled it out and out fell four works of art,” Russell told "Drivetime."
“I know Paul Henry’s work and I recognized the Jack B. Yeats work,” he added.
“I got a bit of a shock when they fell out, then carefully took them to the house and laid them on a table. I looked at them for a while before my wife came in and exclaimed that they were fine art.
Ireland: Man cutting hedge finds stolen paintings worth €180,000 http://t.co/UX54SuQIB3 pic.twitter.com/P7GwsWv3Em— Donna Yates (@DrDonnaYates) July 29, 2015
“We then rang the guards who came out and took them away.”
The Russells took photos with the paintings while they waited for police to arrive.
The investigation into the burglary is ongoing.