Historic musket under the hammer
A weapon presented by Ian Paisley to Bertie Ahern in a symbol of the peace process was a loan, it was revealed.
The centuries-old musket was reputedly used at the Battle of the Boyne between William of Orange and Catholic King James II in 1690 and is to be put up for auction.
It was loaned by an anonymous owner to the former DUP first minister of Northern Ireland who lent it to the former Irish taoiseach, a spokeswoman for the auctioneers said.
Mr Ahern helped negotiate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and received the weapon in a gesture of reconciliation at the site of the battle in 2007. Now the original owner of the firearm has decided to sell.
Belfast auctioneer Daniel Clarke said: "The sale of the Boyne carbine is the most unusual one that I've ever had to conduct.
"We'll certainly have lots of interest in the room, and there's no knowing at this stage just how many will use the internet to bid for this highly desirable antique."
He said the once lethal carbine thought to have been used at the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry came to represent a new beginning in north-south relations.
The veteran auctioneer from Ross' Auctions is in charge of Thursday morning's sale.
He said the "peace gun", lot 400, has attracted significant interest from prospective purchasers, particularly from the Republic of Ireland and the United States.
Mr Clarke added: "I'm looking forward to it enormously. Like the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, I must confess to being slightly nervous about it which is odd given that I've been doing this job for more than 30 years."
The battle, which resulted in the defeat of the Catholic forces of King James II by the Protestant King William of Orange, took place at Oldbridge, Co Meath, in 1690 and is an event commemorated annually on July 12 by loyalists in Northern Ireland.