The Orange Order has confirmed that they were the anonymous buyers who bought a musket, believed to have been used at two of the most historic battles fought on Irish soil.
The gun was sold at auction by Ross’s Auction Rooms, in Belfast, for $31,000 (£20,000). The musket is believed to have been used at both the Siege of Derry in 1688/89 and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The Orange institution announced that they were “delighted to confirm it purchased the much sought-after item at a public auction in the city last week.”
Grand Lodge Director of Services, Dr David Hume, said the piece would be a “tremendous acquisition” for Orangeism and the museum sector in Northern Ireland.
“The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the custodian of a number of artifacts which belonged to or date to the period of William of Orange and this Jacobite artifact is a major addition to our collection,” Hume continued.
“It is tremendous to have an artifact from the period of the Boyne, from the other side of the contest between the two Kings.
“It was very tense being on the other end of the phone during the auction and it was only afterwards that I got to watch the event in the auction house and saw the interest which had been generated. We are delighted to refute one media report which said that the gun would not be on public display.”
The firearm made world headlines when it was presented by then First Minister, Dr Ian Paisley, to Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in 2007 at the site of the Battle of the Boyne. The presentation of the weapon by Dr Paisley was meant to signal a new beginning in north-south relations and end to conflict.
The privately-owned gun was on loan to the Irish State and returned to its owner in 2011.