An extraordinary sequence of events may have saved an ancient symbol of Irish royalty from being destroyed forever.
A necklace, known as a ‘lunala’ was lying in a dumpster just hours before waste disposal men were due to collect it.
A lunala is necklace made from two golden discs. It would have been worn by Irish kings up to 4,000 years ago.
It was first discovered by Hubert Lannon in 1945. Lannon was a farmer in Coggalbeg, Co Roscommon. He was cutting turf when he found the item in a bog.
Lannon gave the lunala to Patrick Sheehan, who worked as a chemist in nearby Stroketown. Sheehan kept the necklace in the safe in his shop. In 2009, it was stolen as two burglars broke into the shop and took the safe.
The police worked closely with curators from the Irish Antiquities Division of the National Museum. They were able to find that jewellery and official documents from Sheehan’s safe had been left in a dumpster in Dublin.
With only a few hours before the rubbish was due for collection the police had to work frantically to find the dumpster. Once they found it they climbed in and waded through the rubbish to search for the ancient treasure.
They were relieved to find the necklace in time. It is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries for several years.
Pat Wallace, director of the museum said: “There is a whole lot of conjoined freaks of good luck to make it possible.”
The lunala is now in the National Museum of Ireland.