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Dad 'almost had his head cut off' in sword attack

A MAN is in a critical condition after suffering horrific injuries in a samurai sword attack following an argument in a pub.

Martin Butler, aged in his early 50s, suffered severe head injuries following the assault in a country pub in Cappawhite, Co Tipperary.

A source told the Herald the victim was lucky not to have been decapitated in the attack.

Investigating gardai have arrested eight men.

Mr Butler -- who works as a volunteer at the local resource centre -- had been playing cards with five other people in Coughlan's bar in the village on Thursday night.

It is understood that another group of men came in and a quarrel broke out.

The altercation continued out onto the street around 12.30am and one of the men -- belonging to the second group that entered the pub -- ran into a nearby home and returned armed with a samurai sword.

Mr Butler was struck over the head with the blade and collapsed to the ground.

Emergency services were alerted and he was rushed to South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel. He was later transferred to Cork University Hospital where it is understood he had surgery yesterday.

He remained in the hospital last night. A source said the victim was lucky he was not decapitated by his assailant.

Gardai arrested the prime suspect in the Cappawhite area around 5am yesterday after they raided a house.

Another seven men were arrested throughout yesterday and were being questioned for violent disorder by officers.

The sword used to assault Mr Butler has also been recovered by investigating gardai.

Hours before the attack, Mr Butler had attended a community alert meeting in the village which was also attended by Supt Padraig Dunne of Tipperary Garda Station.

Issues such as home burglaries were addressed at the community meeting and Mr Butler spoke briefly.

Known locally as 'Go-go', Mr Butler lives in The Crescent housing estate and is described as an extremely popular member of the community. He previously worked with agricultural contractors and has two grown -up daughters.

Close friend and neighbour of Mr Butler, Mary Hanna Hourigan said everyone in Cappawhite was devastated when they learnt of the incident.

"He is an extremely hard-working man. Everyone here knows him -- he is Cappawhite born and bred," Mrs Hourigan said. You could not meet a gentler soul. If you want anything done, he is the man who would do it for you.

"If there was anything you'd need, he was the man who would help you out. During the freezing cold weather, he would have been out gritting the roads. He was always involved in community work," she added.

Anyone with information on the attack is asked to contact Tipperary Town Garda Station on 062-51212.