A woman in her 20s was fighting for her life yesterday after being forced into a public toilet and stabbed repeatedly while people called gardaí to break open the door.
The incident happened in the Markets area of Ennis, Co Clare, at around 6pm on Thursday night.
A source said the woman was seen arguing with a man who then assaulted her.
They said that after passers-by shouted at him and began to raise the alarm, the man gained access to a public toilet on the street and forced the woman inside.
The door was then locked and the concerned witnesses called gardaí.
"The fire brigade had to open the door, and when they did the man was arrested and the woman had suffered multiple stab wounds," the source said.
"She was unconscious and the ambulance personnel were working on her."
The woman was taken to University Hospital Limerick, where her condition was described as critical.
A man in his 30s was arrested and is being detained at Shannon garda station.
Gardaí issued a statement appealing for information from the public.
"We are asking anybody who may have witnessed this incident or were in the Market area of Ennis between 5.30pm and 6.30pm to contact us," it said.
"Gardaí are also appealing to any road users, particularly those with camera footage, to contact the Incident Room at Ennis garda station."
Mayor Mary Howard said the town was shocked by the attack.
"We are all thinking of the victim and hope she makes a full recovery," she said.
"You don't expect to hear of attacks like these in your local town, especially on a Thurs-day evening when things are quiet.
"People are upset and worr-ied about her. This kind of violence is awful."