A woman who was attacked and seriously injured by a cow while walking in a field with her three young children has urged people to help the charity air ambulance service that saved her life.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the attack, which left her with severe internal bleeding and in recovery for a year, Noelle O’Brien said the incident could have been “a bloodbath” had she not put herself between her children and the animal.
Ms O’Brien’s infant son Paudie, who was four months old at the time, was harnessed to his mother when she was butted and knocked to the ground by the enraged cow.
The mother of three managed to get her one-year-old son Ollie and daughter Andie (3) out of the way of the charging cow and, despite her serious injuries, she eventually fended off the animal by slamming an electric fence wire on its head.
Ms O’Brien is one of five people from the village of Galbally in Co Limerick, who have been airlifted to hospital by the Irish Community Air Ambulance, since it was established in 2019.
The service runs entirely on donations, and costs €1m a year to operate, with each individual mission costing €3,500.
“I roared at my friend and the kids to get in under the wire, because I knew there was something wrong. Then the cow stuck her head down and belted me into the side. I had my four-month-old in the harness with me,” said Ms O’Brien.
“We didn’t know it at the time but what was wrong with the cow was we were actually heading towards her new born calf, so that’s why she went for us.”
Her three children, her friend and her child, were uninjured.
“In between the second blow and third blow, I managed to shunt the others towards the fence, it could have been a bloodbath, to be honest,” Ms O’Brien said.
Ms O’Brien sustained six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, and internal bleeding, which required life-saving surgery in Mercy Hospital, Cork.
Back on her feet, she and her local community have planned a series of fundraising events in the village throughout this bank holiday weekend, with all proceeds going to the air ambulance.
Another local mother, Virginie Muller-Feuga, watched in horror as her two-year old son Sean was airlifted in the Irish Community Air Ambulance to hospital after he accidentally scalded himself with hot tea.
“The air ambulance made the decision to airlift him because the case was time-critical,” said Ms Muller-Feuga.
“As soon as they came, they brought a sense of organisation and calm, because we were running around like headless chickens.”
The two women who shared their stories said the charity air service was vital and appealed to the public to keep it going by donating online or visiting Galbally this weekend.
To donate, see community- airambulance.ie