Mystery Donegal woman returns fiver worth €58k

Woman known only as 'J' said she wanted the money used to "help young people"

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Mystery Donegal woman returns fiver worth €58k

The £5 note and the copy of the Donegal Democrat used by the woman to verify she had found it. Photo Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery

An incredibly generous Donegal woman, known only as "J", who found a rare five-pound note worth £50,000 sterling (€58,500 approx) has donated it to charity. In the process of verifying she had found the rare note, she used her local newspaper the Donegal Democrat to prove her valuable find.

Just four of the rare notes, worth an estimated €58,500, were put into circulation in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Three of them have now been discovered, the latest by the Donegal woman who is believed to be elderly. The fact that the anonymous Donegal woman opted to return the note has caused a huge stir.

The note, engraved with a tiny portrait of Jane Austen, was sent back by the woman to the Scottish gallery it came from with a note attached which stated: "£5 note enclosed, I don't need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people."

The £5 note returned to the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery with a note attached from the woman explaining how she didn't want it and would rather it was used "to help young people". Photo Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery

In January the woman contacted the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Scotland who asked her to prove her find. She sent them a picture of the note, verifiable through its serial number, along with a dated copy of her local newspaper, the Donegal Democrat.

Michael Huggins, the gallery's assistant manager told the BBC the woman then asked for a couple of weeks to "mull over" what she might do with it.

"Then we received this note in the mail along with the fiver," he told BBC News NI. "The note just said she wanted it to be used to help young people."

The gallery, in Kelso, Scotland, told BBC News NI the five-pound note would likely be auctioned off in aid of Children in Need.

The gallery created the notes in conjunction with Birmingham micro-artist Graham Short. Short told the BBC he had spent the note "in a small bar called Charlie's Bar" in Enniskillen and the Donegal woman told the gallery she had come across it while on a visit to Enniskillen.

When she spoke to gallery's assistant manager he described her voice as "soft" and "older". "With that and the note when she refers to her age, we think it's an older woman," Michael Huggins told the BBC.

He said the gallery had been in touch with Children in Need, and it's likely the note will be auctioned with an added bonus. "It seems we'll auction it off, but we've also spoken to the artist Graham Short about creating another one-off note as well. So we'll auction both off together."