Three boys escaped uninjured after finding and firing a loaded shotgun at a derelict house.
The eight-year-olds found the weapon in the garden of an abandoned home in Longford town on Wednesday night while they were playing.
One of the youngsters fired the gun. None of the boys were injured.
A Garda spokeswoman said the incident occurred at a property on Palace Crescent in an estate in Longford at about 7.30pm.
It is understood the weapon was a loaded sawn-off shotgun and that it had been stashed in a shed in the garden. Shotgun cartridges were also recovered from the scene.
The alarm was raised after the weapon was fired, the Garda spokeswoman said. The gun was seized by local gardai and will undergo technical examinations.
Longford mayor Peggy Nolan said it was a massive relief no one was injured.
"The area has its problems and they are well known locally but they are no greater or smaller than any other town in the country," she said. "As a mother myself, the consequences do not bear thinking about. It could have been such that we are talking about a fatality or multiple fatalities. How could you live with yourself if that happened?"
Two CCTV cameras have been installed in the area to combat anti-social behaviour.
About a dozen houses have been abandoned in the estate as a result of property investments gone sour or absentee landlords unable to find tenants.