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Critical condition Locals rally in support of retired teacher left fighting for her life after stab attack

Mum-of-four Mary Coughlan, who is in her 60s, today remains in critical condition at Cork University Hospital where she was being treated for multiple stab wounds


Mary Coughlan

Mary Coughlan

Mary Coughlan

A community is praying for the survival of this retired teacher - who was left fighting for her life after she was repeatedly stabbed in a violent attack at her Cork farmhouse.

Mum-of-four Mary Coughlan, who is in her 60s, today remains in critical condition at Cork University Hospital where she was being treated for multiple stab wounds.

She was discovered at the farmhouse in Ballycoughlin outside Innishannon at 2.15 pm on Friday when her daughter called to check on her after becoming concerned for her welfare.

A young man known to Ms. Coughlan was arrested between 2.30 pm and 3 pm at a house in Innishannon.

In a statement gardai said: “A woman, aged in her early 60s, was discovered with a number of apparent stab wounds at approximately 2pm at a residence in Innishannon.

“The woman was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where she is currently in a critical condition.

“The scene is currently preserved for a technical examination.

“A man in his early 30s has been arrested in connection with this assault."

It’s understood that during the attack Mary sustained stab wounds to her arms and upper body.

Gardaí and paramedics attended the scene and she was transferred to Cork University Hospital where she is said to be in a critical but stable condition.

The scene of the stabbing was cordoned off for a forensic examination.

Door to door enquiries were today being carried out to establish if anyone noticed suspicious activity in the area.

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This evening, friends of the Coughlan family described Mary and her husband as ‘the salt of the earth’ and as being highly respected in West Cork’s farming community.

One shocked friend told us: “This is a tragedy that has sent shockwaves through every generation of the community in Innishannon.

“Mary only retired as a teacher at Scoil Eoin here in the town 18 months ago.

“She was extremely popular with the children and absolutely loved by the parents.

“She is involved in everything that is good about this community.

“Everyone is reeling from this and praying that she pulls through.”

Another friend told us that Mary and her husband would also have been regarded extremely highly in the farming community.

“They would be very efficient farmers,” he said.

“They’d have a big holding and would rightly be considered top class.

“Mary is a retired teacher and would have worked in a number of schools in the areas.

“The young lad who has been arrested would, people are saying now, have had some problems mentally.

“But to be honest people are in shock … they’re shell-shocked if I’m being totally honest about it.

“This is so traumatic for our community … it’s a rural community divided in two parishes but Mary and Gerard would be well known and highly respected by everybody.

“God help him and what he’s going through.

“Mary would be a home-maker now since she retired.

“There are conflicting reports locally about what happened so people are still trying to make sense of it.

“There was a property sealed off in Innishannon as well yesterday so that’s where people think he was arrested.

“Mary would be so well known, not just from the farming or the teaching, but she was also involved with a group of about 25 people in this area in the Community Watch.

“We all looked out for each other and crime went well down in this area since we set it up because word would go out about strange vehicles or undesirable characters hanging around.

“She’d be a lovely woman to speak to.

“When I heard this I got the fright of my life … for this to happen to her, a great woman and a great mother who raised a great family, it’s unbelievable.

“That’s all I can think of.

“But for now all we do is hope and pray for her family that she pulls through.”

Gardaí are appealing for anyone with information in connection with this assault to contact Bandon Garda Station on 023 8852200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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