Xmas Miracle | 

Brave shooting victim Sinead Connolly spends Christmas with family

Sinead (33) was shot multiple times in the sitting room of her flat at Bernard Curtis House in Bluebell
Little Leah, who witnessed the shooting of her mum Sinead

Little Leah, who witnessed the shooting of her mum Sinead

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Brave Sinead Connolly, who was badly injured when she was gunned down in front of her daughter, was allowed home from hospital for Christmas to spend time with her family.

Nine months after Sinead (33) was shot multiple times in the sitting room of her flat at Bernard Curtis House in Bluebell, she was able to leave the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire for a few precious days.

Sinead is still coming to terms with her life-changing injuries.

It was the first time that she was reunited with her eight-year-old daughter Leah for any significant amount of time since the horrific attack that the little girl witnessed.

Sinead before the shooting

Sinead before the shooting

Despite her horrific wounds, Sinead did manage to leave hospital recently to attend her daughter's Communion. She had insisted on being there for Leah on her big day, although she was not well enough to make it to the Mass.

Instead, mother and daughter were able to spend the night together at Sinead's mother's house in Ballyfermot, where they shared a bed before Sinead had to return to hospital.

Now, however, Sinead's older sister Orla revealed how Sinead could leave hospital to be with her daughter and the rest of the family over Christmas.

She said Sinead was able to go to her mam's on December 23 and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there before she had to go back to hospital today, saying it "warmed her heart" to know they could spend those special days together.

"It has uplifted our whole family who've been living with this for the last [few] months," said Orla.

Orla told how it was hoped Sinead would have been moved to St Luke's Hospital in recent weeks as part of her treatment, but she is still under heavy medication for her injuries.

"But she is coming off the drugs, Orla said. "The last few weeks she has been coming down off everything because she knows she has to have the ability to look after Leah.

"She wants to be aware of her surroundings and to be able to look after Leah, that's how much she wants to get back to being a mother. "A mother's love knows no bounds," Orla said.

"She just wants to have some sort of normality and even though she's feeling the pain she said she will just get used to it.

"Her chest wound still hasn't healed, from where one of the bullets hit her, and you can just imagine the damage that has done to her inside.

Sinead got out of hospital for a time for Leah’s Communion

Sinead got out of hospital for a time for Leah’s Communion

"But seeing how determined she is to come off all this heavy medication so she can feel herself again is truly inspirational.

"It's been quite emotional for all of us to see, for my mother, my father, and the rest of the family."

Sinead's life was turned upside when she was left paralyzed following the shooting. She was initially treated by medical teams in St James's Hospital who saved her life and remains in the National Rehabilitation Hospital where she is now starting out on the road to recovery.

"It feels like a weight has been lifted," Orla admitted. "I'm a mother as well and to see my baby sister, the way she has accepted the way things are and is fighting through it, has been inspirational. I've seen her in a whole new light, I can't love her any more than I do but I'm so proud of her."

Orla revealed how her family suffered in the aftermath of the shooting but is now starting to come to terms with what happened and look forward to a brighter future.

"It fractured our whole family, it really did," Orla said. "It's taken us months to come to terms with what happened, but now we're starting to heal. In a way we were grieving for what happened to Sinead but the two of them now, her and Leah, are survivors, they're not victims any more.

"I was very angry at the start, because obviously it's hard to accept your baby sister has suffered this way. But the two of them are after surviving this awful event, we all have, and now the future is positive."

forensics at the scene in Bluebell

forensics at the scene in Bluebell

Orla said Christmas had always been Sinead's favourite time of year and she is still upbeat about it this year, despite her ordeal.

"She's getting out of hospital; she's getting her hair done by the hairdresser who's coming here to the house. Her partner got her a bottle of Moet so she can have a glass of champagne as well.

"We'll have everyone here, all our aunts and uncles, as well as Sinead's best friend Carly, who is like a sister to us, so it will be a big family event, a celebration."

Orla said the family got some more good news recently when Dublin City Council found Sinead and Leah an apartment to live in when she gets out of hospital.

"The council has been great," Orla added. "She's been given a new apartment near my mam's and I think it should be ready by March or April.

"It's in a lovely area and it will be a ground floor apartment so that's something for both Leah and Sinead to look forward to.

"It's given Sinead a boost and Leah as well, because now she knows that she's going to be back living together with her mam.

Sinead got out of hospital for a time for Leah’s Communion

Sinead got out of hospital for a time for Leah’s Communion

"There's a real future for them now to look forward to, in terms of getting their lives back together and rebuilding their relationship because it's been eight or nine months since they've really been together.

"And knowing that they have their own place to go to helps.

"We went into the hospital to have some fun together and they were both looking forward to Christmas.

"But then after Christmas they can focus on their new life together. Leah is a little girl and they're already talking about how they're going to decorate her room."

Orla said that before the shooting Sinead was a "very bubbly person", the "life and soul of the party" and people always gravitated towards her.

"Now she's going to have a glass of Champagne, well, what does that tell you about how she's going to be the life and soul once again?" Orla laughed.


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