A WOMAN who returned to Ireland for a holiday after emigrating 47 years ago has been blinded in one eye after she was hit by a glass bottle.
Marie Gauvin (58) was enjoying a night out in Birr, Co Offaly, after a flagship event for The Gathering tourism initiative. She was an innocent bystander when a fight broke out.
Teetotal Ms Gauvin had no involvement in the fracas, but she was struck in the face by a glass bottle, resulting in her sustaining the grievous injuries to her eye.
She will now need to have her right eye surgically removed as it has been damaged beyond repair after the glassing.
Ms Gauvin and her three siblings were all born in Ireland and left Birr in 1966 when their father Frank Wrafter, a talented weaver, went to Canada for work. But last weekend she was enjoying being back home, along with her 84-year-old father and sister Irene (53).
Ms Gauvin had accompanied her father earlier in the evening as he acted as the Grand Marshall of the Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival parade.
This was described as a flagship event for The Gathering in Offaly and the family were delighted to be honoured during the parade.
But just hours later, Ms Gauvin was seriously injured shortly after 11pm when a fight broke out as she walked past an area known locally as 'Keel's Archway'. She was hit by the beer bottle, which severed her retina and fractured bones in her eye socket.
"I have a sister right now, fighting for her eyesight in a hospital in Dublin. She never had a drink in her life and this is what's going on," he said.
"She went home with my father and her sister. It is 47 years since we emigrated from Ireland. We go back every year and we had all just been back together in May. I believe somebody is responsible for this. I am not going to stop until I get to the bottom of this."
Ms Gauvin, who was with her cousin at the time of the incident, was rushed to Tullamore Hospital for treatment.
She was then transferred to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin late on Sunday night. She was operated on early Monday morning and again on Tuesday afternoon.
But the Birr native has been blinded in her right eye and received 23 stitches in total.
Her left eye escaped injury.
The mother of one will return to Canada on Saturday morning and will have her right eye surgically removed the following Monday.
Speaking from hospital, she bravely said that she felt "not too bad" following her ordeal.
Ms Gauvin said that she was now just looking forward to getting back home to her family – husband Ed and son Matthew – on Sunday.
A garda spokesperson said that they were investigating the incident and were hopeful of making an arrest soon.
The spokesperson added: "Investigations are ongoing, CCTV has been harvested and we are hopeful of a positive outcome.
"We hope to have our investigations concluded within the next two to three weeks."