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Library recovers tome missing for 100 years

Story highlights

  • A book missing from Archbishop Marsh's Library in Dublin for 100 years is back home
  • A barrister buys it at a junk shop and brings it to the library
  • The library is delighted to "welcome back an old friend"

On the heels of news that an almost-900-year-old heart was stolen from a cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, comes a report of a happier nature about a long-lost almost-500-year-old book that now is back in its Dublin home.

There is still no sign of the preserved heart of the city's patron saint, St. Laurence O'Toole. It was snatched from the iron cage where it was kept in Christ Church Cathedral at the start of March and has disappeared without trace.

But the new and unlikely tale of the book could give hope to those seeking the heart and all things long lost. Again, the drama is set in the Irish capital and there is a church connection.

The book, missing for a century, has turned up in "remarkably good condition" and has been returned to grateful staff at Archbishop Marsh's Library in Dublin.

The hero of the story is an Irish barrister who plucked the tome from a junk shop. The attorney paid the princely sum of €90 (about $119), picking up an antique mirror into the bargain. Realizing there was something rather special about the book, he brought it to Marsh's Library, where the librarians recognized it as their own.

The book is the middle part of a five-volume set of the complete works of the Greek philosopher and physician Galen. It was published in Basel, Switzerland, in 1538, and had been in the Dublin library's collection since 1701.

    Jason McElligott, keeper of Marsh's Library, tells the story:

    "About 100 years ago volume three went missing from the shelves." But last Friday, "out of the blue, a member of the public who had been browsing in a junk shop in the center of Dublin came in to us and said he had bought something and wondered if it might belong to us."

    Library staff members said they were delighted to "welcome back an old friend." After conservation work, it's hoped the book can be returned to fill the 100-year-old gap in the shelves this summer.