Stolen paintings lay in ditch for nine months
Three paintings worth an estimated €200,000 have been discovered wrapped in a plastic bag and dumped in a ditch just a few kilometres from the house where they were stolen last year.
The artworks are believed to be in a relatively good condition despite spending more than nine months out in the elements.
They were discovered yesterday by Denis Russell (59) as he was trimming bushes outside his house in Donard, Co Wicklow,
He noticed "an unusual looking plastic bag" in the ditch and "got a bit of a shock" when he made a closer inspection and found the paintings inside.
Speaking last night, Mr Russell said the paintings "looked like they came straight out of a gallery".
The artworks are the 'Portrait of a Lady' by Sir John Lavery, which is worth in the region of €100,000; 'Landscape with Cottage' by Paul Henry, valued at €50,000; and 'The Fern in the Area' by Jack B Yeats, which is worth €50,000.
"Straight away I recognised JB Yeats, so I knew they were of some significance but I never made the connection with the missing paintings," said Mr Russell.
However, his wife, Bernie Whelan, is an art enthusiast and immediately recognised the paintings as the stolen works. "She gasped when she saw me with them," Mr Russell said.
The couple took a photo of themselves with the famous paintings, before calling gardaí.
Gardaí believe the paintings have been in the ditch since they were stolen from a house in Donard on October 22, last year.
No other items were taken during the raid suggesting the criminals were after the art.