A gun which was almost certainly used at both the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Londonderry went under the hammer on Thursday – but the buyer remains mysterious.
The weapon had belonged to James’ defeated army, and was presented by Rev Ian Paisley to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2007 as a symbol of improving north-south relations.
After a number of bids, a buyer secured the gun for £20,000.
However, they called in by telephone rather than turning up in person at Belfast’s Ross’s auction house.
They want to remain anonymous, but the auction house was able to state that the weapon will remain on the island of Ireland (although it is not known if it will be Northern Ireland or the Republic).
In addition, a TV crew from the hit show Bargain Hunt was also filming an episode of the show at the venue.
Asked if he had seen anything like the Boyne gun before, one of the show’s antique experts David Harper said: “No, I’ve never quite seen anything like this rifle or musket.
“It’s going to attract international interest. And today, with the world of the internet that piece can be sold to someone in America, Australia, South Africa – it doesn’t make a difference.
“They don’t have to be here in Belfast. I predict a big fight on for this object because it is incredibly rare.”
Its guide price had been between £15,000 and £25,000.
When the time came to sell it, bidders tussled for the weapon for around 90 seconds until a sale was agreed – prompting a round of applause from the packed room.
Daniel Clarke, who heads the auctioneering firm, described the 1685-made gun as “very, very rare” and “in wonderful condition”.
He said they were “very satisfied” with the price.
He said that the gun was made by a weapon supplier based at the Tower of London.
He added: “This weapon would have been commissioned by a dragoon officer of James’ army, and almost certainly would have been used at the Siege of Derry, and the Battle of the Boyne.”
It was owned by an anonymous Co Antrim businessman, who had loaned it to Rev Paisley, who in turn gave it to the Irish state for four years.
One of those who turned up at the acution was James Mawhinney, a 55-year-old retired joiner from Rathfriland who has been attending auctions regularly since he was a teenager.
He said: “I’ve seen all sorts of things – a replica of James Bond’s gun – but never a gun from the Boyne.”
A couple of attendees told the News Letter they would like to see it end up in a museum.
Asked where he would like to see it, Mr Mawhinney said: “Up on my wall!”