AN ELDERLY woman bravely locked would-be thieves in her yard while she rang for help.
Ann Curtis (64) said her "hands were shaking" as she padlocked the iron gate while the three trespassers hurled abuse at her.
The quick-thinking woman managed to calm the three men by promising to return to her nearby house for the padlock key, but instead ran home to call gardai and family for help.
The drama unfolded at about 4.15pm on Tuesday when occupants of a car were seen acting suspiciously near Mrs Curtis' property in the townland of Clegg, near Nobber in Co Meath.
When her five grandchildren, aged between eight and 13, noticed that the car had disappeared into the yard, the courageous grandmother quickly told the children to lock themselves into the house while she went to investigate.
She said: "I drove up to the yard and saw the three loading up tools and wheels of a jeep into their car.
"I parked a bit away and asked them what they were doing. When they started giving me cheek, I reversed really fast, got out of the car and managed to get the iron entrance gate closed and padlocked. My hands were shaking."
She continued: "The men got very agitated and started to call me names. They said they weren't stealing anything. I told them that if they calmed down, I'd go back to the house to get the key. However, I went home and called for help."
Her daughter Marie was the first to arrive at the yard, where the men were trying to ram the gate after realising they had been duped.
Without thinking Marie drove her 4x4 in front of the gate and within minutes, the yard was surrounded by up to a dozen neighbours who came to help until the gardai arrived.
She said: "The grandchildren were terrified.
"Everyone here is hailing mum as a hero. They think she's brilliant. Everything happened so fast and adrenaline was so high that we didn't think of the dangers."
Gardai confirmed that three men had been arrested and charged in relation to the incident.
Mrs Curtis and her family are no stranger to bad luck as they have coped with the loss of eight family members in road crashes and suicide over the past 12 years.