GARDAI are seeking the owners of dozens of items of stolen artwork worth more than €100,000.
The paintings, books and antiques are believed to have been stolen in the 1980s and 1990s and were discovered in April, at the Dublin home of an art thief who was known to the gardai.
Gardai believe that many of the owners may not even be aware they have been stolen, as replicas may have been swapped for originals by the thief.
They are thought to have been taken from private collectors, stately homes and hotels.
Supt Paul Moran said: “Our objective is to return these pieces of art to their owners.
“We have confirmed that six of these recovered items have been stolen and we suspect that the remaining items were also stolen.”
These six pieces have been reunited with owners in Dublin, Carlow, Belfast and Britain - but 42 paintings and other artworks are still to be returned.
No charges have been brought in relation to the discovery of the art, but the investigation is said to be at a very early stage.
Some of the pieces are over 200 years old and gardai are appealing to art owners to check if any of their paintings are among the haul recovered.
The collection includes an oil painting of a ruined castle by William Ashford which is worth in excess of €10,000. Pieces by Irish artists Brian Ballard, Graham Knuttel and Mark O’Neill have also been recovered.
In the haul was a painting by former RTE presenter Thelma Mansfield, who said: “I know nothing about it, it must have been bought by a client and stolen from them.”
Supt Moran appealed to anyone who may have been affected to “check similar paintings because it may be the case that some of the paintings on their premises have been replaced by copies.”
All of the art is on display on www.garda.ie.