THE Irish crown jewels, stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907 and believed to be worth about £5m today, may have been recovered from a secret hiding place.
Sir Arthur Vicars, who as Ulster King of Arms was keeper of the fabulous jewels, was shot dead by the old IRA on April 14, 1921 during the War of Independence. Many believe he carried the exact location of the jewels to the grave.
Despite an exhaustive police investigation by Scotland Yard at the time, a Royal Commission and a three-week Garda search of the Dublin mountains in 1983, the famous jewels have never been recovered.
Now, Michael Murphy, a nephew of Michael Murphy, the valet of Sir Arthur Vicars, who was at Kilmorna House on the night it was burned to the ground and Vicars shot dead, believes the jewels have been recovered from their secret hiding place in Co Kerry.
Mr Murphy, who has been on a personal quest to solve the decades old mystery of the theft of the jewels, said this week that a startling new discovery at Kilmorna House, outside Listowel, indicates the jewels have in fact been recovered by a person or persons unknown.
In the early hours of Friday morning last Mr Murphy was instructed by an informant, with a distinct English accent, to go to the old garden of the house where he found a stone with a Latin inscription which had been removed from behind a brick wall.
He believes the stolen jewels, which include the diamond star and badge of the Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick and five gold collars, were removed from a box attached to the stone.
A portion of an old map and documents looted from Kilmorna House before it was burned to the ground in 1921, and now in the possession of Mr Murphy, indicate to him that someone has finally solved the mystery and found the jewels.
Mr Murphy says he is not prepared to reveal all he knows. But he says the jewels were removed at the dead of night because the people who figured out where they were hidden did not want to have to go through the necessary bureaucratic measures to get permission to search for the jewels.
He did say that the mystery informant, with whom he has had a lot of contact in the past, was elated and said to him: ``It's all over. The evidence is there on the ground for you to see.''