DETECTIVES seized three guns and almost 200 rounds of ammunition when they observed a suspected firearms handover outside a pub in Bray, Co Wicklow.
An 18-year-old local man was arrested at the scene and a 19-year-old later handed himself into gardai after officers spotted one of the men taking the deadly weapons out of a boot of a car in the car park of a pub on the Old Dublin Road.
The weapons consisted of two rifles and a shotgun.
Sources say that the bullets which were seized were compatible with the weapons.
Gardai have not yet established exactly what the guns were to be used for but are examining if it is connected to a local feud which has been simmering for over a year.
Officers have established that the firearms were stolen in a burglary in Co Galway earlier this year but do not believe the arrested men took part in this.
It is understood that the men said they found the firearms at a local school.
The seizure happened at around 6pm on Friday and the incident was noticed by local detectives who were on routine patrol.
Local councillor John Brady (SF) told the Herald: "Given the serious incidents of crime in Bray and North Wicklow in recent months, this is a very welcome seizure of guns by gardai and they must be commended.
"It is essential for communities like ours that firearms of any kind are not being sold or passed around."
Gardai from Co Wicklow were expected to introduce a motion today at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) calling for the current number of gardai allowed to carry firearms to be maintained, if not increased.
A senior source said: "Senior gardai in Co Wicklow, and particularly in the Bray area, support this motion.
"The availability of firearms is a particularly acute problem in the Bray area which has a number of organised crime gangs operating in it."
The seizure was the most significant success gardai in Bray had since they seized a 9mm Mac-10 machine gun, along with a silencer, ammunition and other firearms, during the search of a car boot during a routine garda patrol in the centre of town last February.
On that occasion, a car driven by a man in his 20s was pulled over by traffic gardai on patrol at Sidmonton Square in broad daylight.
The driver was asked to open the boot, where they found the weapons and ammunition.