Drunk thugs danced on the head of an off-duty garda causing the young officer serious head injuries in an unprovoked attack.
Garda Dean Bolger is being treated at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, after the violent incident happened at Strand Road in Bray, Co Wicklow, at 3.30am on Friday.
Garda Bolger suffered a fractured skull and fractured eye socket in the assault.
His colleague Garda Sean Liddy was also attacked during the incident. Gardai are hunting for three suspects in the case.
Neither officer was on duty when the assault occurred and it is understood that the attack was witnessed by one taxi driver.
It has emerged that gardai have also obtained good quality CCTV of the assault but no arrests have yet been made.
"Garda Bolger suffered far worse injuries than his colleague. He was punched and kicked in the head and received serious head injuries," a source explained.
"He also received an injury to his eye socket when he received a number of kicks while he was on the ground.
"It seems that the fractured skull was caused when he hit his head on a footpath after being struck."
"Garda Liddy was also assaulted but did not require hospital treatment," the source added.
Garda Bolger was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital by ambulance after the attack but was later transferred to Beaumont Hospital because of the serious nature of his injuries.
However he is now back in St Vincent's and is expected to recover from his horror ordeal.
It has emerged that Garda Bolger has not been well enough to give investigating officers a statement about what happened on the morning of the attack but it is expected that he may be in a position to do this in the coming days.
Gardai say that the three men involved in the assault all wore jeans and dark zipped jackets with one suspect being described as six feet and four inches in height and the other two around five feet and 11 inches in height.
It is not known what led up to the assault which happened at Bray's seafront, close to a pub, and gardai are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the assault to contact them.
A source explained that the two off-duty gardai had been out socialising in the seaside town and were attempting to make their way home when the incident happened.
It is believed that the group who were involved in the assault may have been in the same venue that the two gardai were in earlier on the night and may have left a local premises at the same time as them.
The case is being investigated by Bray gardai and it is not clear yet if the assaults are linked to their profession.
Garda Bolger is based at Greystones Garda Station while Garda Liddy is based in Bray Station.
Both are aged in their late 20s and described as well-respected officers.
Garda Liddy has been the chief garda witness in a number of court cases.
There have been a number of attacks on off-duty gardai in recent years.
In January, a man who broke an off-duty garda's nose at a concert in the Phoenix Park in July 2012, received a suspended sentence of three years.
Last November, four men who attacked and assaulted an off-duty garda couple were sentenced to community service orders in lieu of prison terms at Castlebar Circuit Court in Co Mayo.
The off-duty gardai were attacked after leaving a nightclub when they were verbally abused and savagely assaulted on the street in Charlestown.