Limerick woman seriously injured in cow attack appeals for donations for life-saving air ambulance

Noelle O'Brien said the incident could have been 'a bloodbath' had she not put herself between her children and the animal
Limerick woman seriously injured in cow attack appeals for donations for life-saving air ambulance

The crew of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, which has saved a number of lives in Limerick and beyond. File picture: Brian Lougheed

A Co Limerick woman, who was attacked and seriously injured by a cow while walking in a field with her three young children, has urged people to donate to the Munster charity air ambulance service that saved her life.

Speaking 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 cow.

Noelle O’Brien, who was attacked by a cow, near her home in Galbally, Co Limerick, and was airlifted to hospital with serious internal bleeding, by the Munster-based Irish Community Air Ambulance on August 26, 2019. Ms O’Brien is pictured here with her husband Paddy O’Brien, and their children Andie, Ollie, and Paudie.
Noelle O’Brien, who was attacked by a cow, near her home in Galbally, Co Limerick, and was airlifted to hospital with serious internal bleeding, by the Munster-based Irish Community Air Ambulance on August 26, 2019. Ms O’Brien is pictured here with her husband Paddy O’Brien, and their children Andie, Ollie, and Paudie.

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, 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 an 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,” Ms O’Brien explained.

After being knocked to the ground, Ms O'Brien managed to get up and under the wire of the electric fence. 

Luckily, everyone else was uninjured.

“My damage was all along my side, because I turned to protect my four month old. It's a pure miracle there wasn't a scratch on Paudie." 

Ms O’Brien sustained six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, and internal bleeding, which required life-saving surgery at the 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.

Sean Cunningham (2), from Galbally, Co Limerick, being airlifted to hospital on July 2 this year by the crew of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, after sustaining serious burns when he accidentally scalded himself with hot liquid.
Sean Cunningham (2), from Galbally, Co Limerick, being airlifted to hospital on July 2 this year by the crew of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, after sustaining serious burns when he accidentally scalded himself with hot liquid.

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 liquid on July 2 this year. He poured a cup of tea on himself, with the ambulance deciding to airlift him as the case was time-critical.

“As soon as they came, they brought a sense of organisation and calm, because we were running around like headless chickens and they organised everyone and were really professional,” Ms Muller-Feuga said.

The two women said the charity chopper service was vital and appealed to the public to keep it going by donating online or visiting Galbally this weekend.

The air ambulance, which is based in Rathcool, north west Cork, was last week tasked to 21 emergency incidents, including five alone last Saturday.

The air ambulance has responded to more than 1,000 incidents since it was established in July 2019.

Donations to the service can be made here

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