GARDAI are handing a personally engraved pistol that belonged to Lord Mountbatten back to his family.
The Browning .22 handgun, which is inscribed with his name, was believed to have been given up to authorities in Ireland during an amnesty more than 40 years ago.
"It is quite small, and would fit in the palm of your hand," said one security source.
"It is like something you would see a man at a casino pulling out of his dinner jacket in a James Bond film."
Firearms over a certain calibre had to be surrendered in the Republic in 1972 as emergency laws were brought in to deal with the conflict that broke out in Northern Ireland.
At the time, Lord Mountbatten, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, used to spend his summer holidays at his imposing castle in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where he was later assassinated by the IRA while out fishing.
His personal pistol, pictured, was only rediscovered in Custume Barracks, in Athlone, Co Westmeath, in the last few months. Hundreds of weapons handed over during the amnesty at the outbreak of the Troubles are still being stored by the Irish Army.
"An officer noticed this pistol during a check, and brought it to the attention of our senior military personnel," said an army spokesman.
"It was thought then it would be a fitting gesture of the goodwill between our two nations that the pistol be handed back to the Mountbatten family."