Donegal library book returned after more than 80 years

The White Owl Image copyright Donegal County Council
Image caption Fines for overdue book returns were abolished in all Irish public libraries in January

A book borrowed from an Irish library has been returned more than 80 years after it was due to be taken back.

The White Owl by Annie MP Smithson was borrowed on 23 July 1937 from Donegal County Library in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht area of Gweedore.

It was returned to Gweedore Public Library on 17 May.

The book was found during a house clearance in the nearby town of Falcarragh.

Image copyright Donegal County Council
Image caption A stamp inside the book shows that it was borrowed in July 1937

Senior library assistant Denis McGeady said he was stunned that the book had been returned after eight decades.

"I couldn't believe my eyes on Friday morning when the book was returned to us after such a long time," he said.

"It's common to see books brought back two or maybe three years late - but this is unique."

'Don't be afraid'

He said the book was deemed to be very rare.

"This is a first edition of The White Owl - it was published in 1937 and borrowed that same year so was more than likely brand new at the time it was borrowed."

Image copyright Donegal County Council
Image caption The library's rules from the 1930s show that readers were required to return books after 14 days

He added: "We've looked in the national libraries system and there are certainly not too many first editions of this book there."

The borrower had 14 days to return the book but it has been out on loan for almost 82 years.

Fines for overdue book returns were abolished in all Irish public libraries in January.

"The return of this book is a nice reminder to anyone who has any overdue books not to be afraid," added Mr McGeady.

There are now plans to display the returned book in a case along with newspaper clippings from the time it was borrowed.

Related Topics