A previously unpublished photograph, taken in October 1878, of a then unknown, 23-year-old Oscar Wilde has been discovered.

The picture was taken during a house party at Ashford Castle, home of Lord and Lady Ardilaun of the Guinness dynasty, in Co Mayo. Wilde is seen wearing tweed and is seated to the right of the group on the balustrading on the front steps of the house.

The photograph was found in an album belonging to Lady Ardilaun and will be auctioned next months at a sale of country house antiques and collectibles held by Adam’s Fine Art Auctioneers at Slane Castle in Co Meath.

The album could sell for up to €8,000.

Auctioneer Kieran O’Boyle said the “superb photograph is part of a fascinating album depicting the Guinness’s social life and has never been published, as far as we are aware.”

The album comes from an unnamed vendor “from the extended family of Lady Ardilaun.”

Lord and Lady Ardilaun were Ireland’s wealthiest couple in the 19th century. The couple, who had no children, were philanthropists whose most notable gift to Ireland was St Stephen’s Green.

The Wilde family had a holiday home, Moytura House, close to Ashford Castle and the young Wilde spent many summer holidays in the area.

The photograph was taken just after Wilde completed his university studies at Oxford and during what is believed to have been his last visit to Co Mayo.

He moved to London shortly after the photograph was taken and would become the most famous playwright of his time.

* Originally published in Nov 2014.