Earlier this week, Denis Russell, 59, was trimming the hedges outside his cottage in Co. Wicklow when he discovered €200,000 worth of paintings in them.

When he saw a black garbage bag nestled in a ditch, he assumed it was filled with trash – a nuisance that has happened before.

But when he opened the bag, he found quite the opposite: four paintings by famous Irish artists.

The paintings - 'Portrait of a Lady' by Sir John Lavery, 'Landscape with Cottage' by Paul Henry, 'The Fern in the Area' by Jack B. Yeats, and a portrait of Samuel Beckett by Tom Byrne – had been reported stolen from a house in Donard, Co. Wicklow last October.

That house is just 2 fields away from Denis's cottage and it is believed the paintings may have been sitting in the hedge since then.

Once Denis and his wife had examined the painting and got over their shock they rang the Gardai who came and took them away.