GARDAI are hunting a masked gang who viciously attacked an elderly couple during the second break-in at their Co Meath home in a month.
Joan and Jim Louth were beaten with a firearm during the incident which occurred off the Main Street in Duleek at 7pm last Tuesday.
The couple, aged in their 70s, were watching TV when three masked men burst into their home and demanded to know where their valuables were.
Gardai believe a fourth member of the gang stayed outside to keep watch.
After taking a number of items from the house, the raiders locked the couple into the bathroom where they shouted for help through the window.
Mrs Louth was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where she was kept overnight and treated for minor injuries.
Gardai believe the men, who spoke with local Irish accents, fled in a car towards the Donore area.
It's the second reported break-in at their home in the last month but it's understood that the thieves were disturbed and fled empty-handed in the first burglary. Gardai have not yet ruled out a link between the two incidents.
The assault has left Duleek residents in shock as the Louths are well-known business people in the village. The couple ran the local post office and supermarket on the Main Street for over 20 years. Their sons Ian and Seamus now run the outlets.
After the incident, Ian said his parents were "in a state of shock" and appealed "for anyone who may have noticed anything" to go to gardai.
He also thanked residents for their well-wishes and support towards his parents.
Local publican and next-door neighbour Seamus O'Neill said it was "a very frightening experience for a couple that should be enjoying their retirement years".
Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Dean Kerins described the incident as a "particularly violent attack", adding that gardai were carrying out door-to-door inquiries as part of the investigation.
Anyone who may have passed a car at speed between Donore and Duleek or noticed anything suspicious can contact Ashbourne Gardai on 01-8351515.