The previously unrecorded piece by the Florence-based artist Francis Harwood was formerly the property of Canon Joseph Furlong, parish priest here from 1952 until he died in 1971, according to today's Irish Times.
Canon Furlong, who had served as an RAF chaplain in France during WW1 and flew his own plane from 1937, is understood to have bought the piece at an auction in Co Louth in the 1950s. After his death is was inherited by a relative, who recently decided to sell it.
The bust is dated 1757, which makes it the oldest of now three depictions of the Greek poet by the artist, who made his living providing sculpture for British aristocrats visiting Florence on the so-called Grand Tour. Harwood had moved to Florence from England.
The other two pieces are in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and in Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire. The one owned formerly by Fr Furlong will be on offer in the Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art sale at Sothebys on December 3rd.