€350k Joyce first edition’s odyssey ends by being posted back to Cork

A literary treasure was sent from the US, by ordinary post, in a brown paper wrapping to a local society in Cork.

But the Irish-American sender of the signed first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses didn’t realise the delightful gift, to the people of Macroom, would present a “headache” for Cork County Council.

The book has been given a conservative value of €350,000.

However, neither the local library or Cork County Council’s library service at County Hall have the facilities to securely display it.

And discussions are continuing with University College Cork to find a location on the campus where the book can be put on public display.

A council spokesman said: “We just don’t have the specialist facilities required and, as the request was to have it be put on public view, we approached UCC and have made an agreement with them to put it on permanent display.”

It is not clear when UCC will put the book on public display. A spokeswoman for the university said: “It is indeed a rare book with only a small number of copies being held by public institutions in Ireland.”

The book was sent earlier this year to a society in Macroom because emigrant Peter Golden came from the town.

The sender had requested the book would be put on display in the local library to be “enjoyed by the people”.

However, American-based executors of his will may not have realised how valuable the book was as they simply posted it, unregistered, to Macroom.

A council spokesman said: “From what I gather James Joyce signed only 100 first editions of the book. This is number 19 of those first editions. It was also signed by Peter Golden, the man who originally acquired it. He was from Macroom.”

It is understood Mr Golden’s son was the person who bequeathed the book to the people of Cork.

“I can also confirm it was sent from America by ordinary post,” said the council spokesman.

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