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'Terrified' Cork woman (84) tells how burglar held 'long knife' to her throat and stole savings

Kind-hearted Mary - who looks after her brother as well as her elderly sister - said she never thought the elderly could be subjected to such cruel treatment in Ireland.

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Mary O’Halloran who with her brother Gerry were threatened at knife point during an aggravated burglary at a house in Gurranabraher in Cork city.

Mary O’Halloran who with her brother Gerry were threatened at knife point during an aggravated burglary at a house in Gurranabraher in Cork city.

Mary O’Halloran who with her brother Gerry were threatened at knife point during an aggravated burglary at a house in Gurranabraher in Cork city.

AN EIGHTY-FOUR year old woman who with her elderly brother was subjected to an hour long ordeal by a knife-wielding burglar admitted they were both left terrified by the robbery.

Mary O'Halloran (84) admitted she feared she was going to be stabbed by the intruder who kept demanding cash from her and her brother Gerry (79) after he broke into their property on Cork's northside on Sunday morning.

Her brother was left so frightened he now doesn't want to return to his Boyce's Street home in Cork.

Kind-hearted Mary - who looks after her brother as well as her elderly sister - said she never thought the elderly could be subjected to such cruel treatment in Ireland.

The burglar made off with a large portion of Mary and Gerry's life savings - and then broke the phone in Gerry's home and smashed lights before fleeing on foot.

The alarm was raised by a home help and neighbours.

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Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry.

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry.

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry.

"We were both terrified - I was shocked but it was my brother I was worried about," Mary said.

"He (the burglar) had the knife held up to our throats and kept saying he wanted the money, he wanted the money off us."

"What could we do? We couldn't do anything else (except hand over their savings) because I thought he was going to stab us both. It was very scary."

The burglar took an estimated €800 from Gerry and some €1,000 from Mary - the bulk of their life savings. "We got a terrible fright from it."

Mary admitted that both Gerry and herself feared for their lives at one point.

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"I'm not too bad today - we are both just trying to get over it. We weren't hurt but we both left very shaken. They have kept Gerry in (hospital) but I went home."

"He had a long knife held up to us - it had a long blade. He held it up to my throat and to Gerry's throat. We both got a terrible fright."

Mary said that her brother had previously wanted to relocate out of the area - and was now too scared to return to his home.

She suffered a slight cut to her hand during the incident.

"He (the burglar) shoved me into the house and wouldn't let me go. He kept shouting that he wanted money."

The pensioner said she was "overwhelmed" by the reaction of the Cork and Irish public to their ordeal with a GoFundMe page raising over €23,000 in less than 24 hours for the siblings.

While Gerry and Mary did not suffer serious injuries in the robbery, they were taken to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) for precautionary checks.

Gerry remains in MUH where he is being kept under precautionary observation.

Mary said her brother was "still shaking" over what he had endured.

He was held at knife point for around 20 minutes or more before Mary called to his home on Sunday morning and was then forced inside by the burglar.

Gardaí are now hunting for the burglar who broke into the property at Boyce's Street on Cork's northside sometime around 7am.

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother.

Paramedics Keith Harrington and Sean Healy were shocked by what the elderly couple had endured.

In a bid to help the siblings, they decided to set up a GoFundMe appeal with the aim of raising €2,000.

In the space of 12 hours, the appeal had raised €10,000 for the elderly couple and later soared to more than €23,000 with donations still pouring in as well as offers of meals, hotel breaks and even security systems.

Mr Harrington said that they decided to establish the page to financially assist the pensioners in the wake of the shocking incident.

"They are an elderly brother and sister and have been deeply traumatised by their experience," he posted.

"They were held at knifepoint in their home for over an hour. They are now being treated in the MUH. It would be great if we could alleviate their financial worries at least."

A major Garda manhunt is now underway for the thief. Gardaí said they believe CCTV security camera footage from premises in the area will now prove crucial.

Detectives are appealing for information and are keen to speak with anyone who was in the vicinity of Boyce’s Street or neighbouring streets between 6:30am and 9am on Sunday who may have witnessed anything to come forward.

They are also appealing to road users with dash-cam footage from the Gurranabraher area between those times, to make it available to them.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Gurranabraher Garda Station on (021) 4946200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

Such is the abhorrence of the attack that Garda sources said even local criminal elements are now providing assistance in tracking down the culprit.

Gardaí said the burglar spoke with a Cork accent and is believed to be aged in his 20s or 30s.

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