Victory for islanders as stolen human skulls to be returned by Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has agreed to return 13 human skulls that were stolen from a remote Irish island in 1890, after a campaign by the islanders.

The human remains were taken from St Colman's monastery on Inishbofin, off Ireland's west coast, by Alfred Haddon and Andrew Dixon, academics affiliated with TCD.

Haddon's own diary entry recorded the theft, and the skulls have resided ever since in Trinity's Dublin campus.

But in recent years, pressure has mounted on Ireland's oldest university to return the remains, which are estimated to be around 400 or 500 years old, and a consultation process was initiated last year.

Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Trinity's provost Dr Linda Doyle said: "I am sorry for the upset that was caused by our retaining of these remains and I thank the Inishbofin community for their advocacy and engagement with us on this issue.

"We will now work with the community to ensure that the remains are returned in a respectful manner and in accordance with the community's wishes."

Read more: Trinity College Dublin faces islanders' demands to return 400-year-old skulls

Speaking to Sky News, islander and campaigner Marie Coyle said: "I'm over the moon, it's like I can breathe out at last.

"We've had a lot of obstacles in the way. I was always hoping, but there were a lot of hopes dashed along the way.

"It's been a long, long time. It's taken a lot of energy and emotion, but this is what they [the skulls] deserve. They were stolen from us."

A timeframe for the return has yet to be organised, but islanders hope to inter the skulls at the St Colman's site they were stolen from more than a century ago.

"We'd like it done as soon as possible," Ms Coyne added.

"It'll be one funeral we'll all be looking forward to going to. We're just so glad they're coming home."