A PLUCKY grandmother locked trespassers in her yard while she ran to raise the alarm.
Ann Curtis (64) has been hailed a hero in her local community of Nobber, Co Meath, after she padlocked the iron gate while the three trespassers hurled abuse at her.
Mrs Curtis said her "hands were shaking" as she padlocked her gate, but she stayed calm as she told the three men that she would return with a key to set them free.
Instead, she ran to call gardai and family members for help.
The drama unfolded on Tuesday afternoon when a car's occupants were seen acting suspiciously near Mrs Curtis's property in the townland of Clegg.
When her five grandchildren, aged between eight and 13, noticed that the car had disappeared into the yard, the courageous grandmother told the children to lock themselves into the house while she went to investigate.
"I drove up to the yard and saw the three loading up tools and the 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," Mrs Curtis said.
"They 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 having realised they had been duped.
Marie drove her jeep in front of the gate and within minutes, the yard was surrounded by up to a dozen neighbours who waited until the gardai arrived.
"The grandchildren were terrified. Everyone is hailing mum as a hero. Everything happened so fast and adrenaline was so high that we didn't think of the dangers," said Marie.
Mrs Curtis's daughter said she wanted to nominate her mum for an award as she has been through a lot recently.
In 2001, Ann lost a daughter, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren in a crash at Swann's Cross in Co Monaghan.
Two years ago her husband passed away and a month later her nephew Glenn died in a crash that claimed multiple lives just after Christmas.
The Rehab Meath People of the Year awards take place later this year and Marie says she will nominate her mother.
Gardai confirmed that they attended the scene and three men were charged with alleged trespass and were released on bail to appear before Navan District Court next month.