Rare book returned to Donegal library 82 years after it was borrowed

A rare book has been returned to a Co Donegal library - 82 years after it was borrowed!

The book, The White Owl, was first taken out of the public library in Gaoth Dobhair in 1937.

Shocked staff at the library could hardly believe their eyes on Friday when the book was returned intact.

Members of the family of the person who had borrowed the book were having a house clearance at their home in Falcarragh in West Donegal when they came across it.

The book even has an original Donegal County Council Libraries stamp which shows it was borrowed on July 23, 1937 - the same year it was first published.

The book, written by AMP Smithson, is considered a very rare book, according to a spokesperson for Donegal Library.

Copies of the book, which was first published by The Talbot Press in both Dublin and Cork are on sale for almost €300.

Her novels feature in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa. Between 1989 and 1990 the Mercier Press reprinted several of her works.

The author AMP Smithson was a Dublin-born Protestant who converted to Catholicism in 1907 and became a fervent Republican and Nationalist.

She became a member of Cumann na mBan and campaigned for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election.

Some of her 20 published novels feature in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, ironically a film set in Co Donegal.

A spokesperson for Donegal County Libraries said of the return to their care "Better late than never."

Thankfully for the family who returned the novel after unknowingly having it for 82 years, the Government scrapped library fines for late book returns on January 1st of this year.

And with the average price being 5 cent per day, the overdue fine on The White Owl would have been in the region of €1,280.

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