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Four months after being brutally attacked, Paddy Hansard says he's 'thankful to be alive' this Christmas

Hansard, 73, suffered serious head injuries and broken bones in the attack near his home in Ballybough in Dublin.

Friends organised a vigil for Paddy following the vicious attack.
Friends organised a vigil for Paddy following the vicious attack.
Image: Twitter

A GREAT GRANDFATHER who was left fighting for life, following an unprovoked  attack, knows he would not have seen another Christmas and new year without the intervention of medical staff and the unfailing support of his family.

Paddy Hansard, 73, suffered serious head injuries and broken bones in his neck due to a horrific attack which took place at around 2.30am on 17 August, at the Courtney Place flat complex in Ballybough, Dublin.

Mr Hansard, a retired scaffolder, was on his way home, with his partner June from a night out, which he spent in the Clonliffe House pub.

The highly respected family man, who has five adult children, along with four brothers and 11 sisters, was rushed to the nearby Mater Hospital by emergency services, in a critical condition.

He battled to stay alive in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for several weeks where he was placed in an induced coma. Eventually he was moved to a high dependency ward where he remained up until two weeks ago. Mr Hansard is now a patient in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Finglas, Dublin, where he will stay for months to come.

As a result of the attack, he suffered three bleeds to his brain and broken bones in his neck which have left him with a permanent significant brain injury, difficulties with swallowing solid foods, speech constraints and compromised use of the left side of his body. 

While Mr Hansard is making medical progress, albeit slowly, doctors have advised his family that he will need round the clock care in the future. 

Gardaí continue to investigate the assault which featured on RTÉ’s Crimecall programme last September. Officers issued an appeal for information on a mask which was worn by the assailant in the assault. 

A man in his 50s, who was understood to have lived at the complex, was arrested on Saturday, 17 August and was questioned for a time by gardaí in Mountjoy.

He was subsequently released without charge and a file is now with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). 

Christmas

Looking forward to being allowed by doctors to visit with his children, siblings and partner June away from the hospital for several hours on Christmas Day, a bright, cheery yet emotional Mr Hansard speaking from his hospital bed said: “I’m very thankful to be alive. I know it could have been a very different story. My family might not have me around anymore.”

Only for the skill, unfailing and continual care of medical staff at the Mater Hospital and here in Cappagh the tale of Paddy Hansard could have had various outcomes and I’m not unaware of that – it is a shocking reality. 

“My family and by that I mean my children, all of my siblings and partner June have been unfailing in helping me. Their love, care, kindness has been and continues to be immense. But I’ve put them through so much worry which has left everyone reeling from the incident.” 

Mr Hansard, who has recovered his long-term memory, to a good extent, has ongoing difficulty with short-term thoughts. He revealed he remembers a scant amount of what happened on the night of the assault. 

“I remember very little from that night, only what I’m told from my brothers, sisters and my partner June which is difficult and very upsetting to come to terms with. Nobody wants to end up like that – missing hours and days of their life. I don’t know how I feel about the events of that night – confused I suppose. 

“All I have ever wanted was a quite life. I’ve a long, difficult road ahead of me, and I know that it will be tough but I’m lucky to be here, ” added Mr Hansard. 

The ardent football follower, Manchester United supporter and one of the founding members of Kilbarrack United Football Club, admitted that his brother Paul, has been his “best mate” through out the past four months and indeed like all of his brothers share a very special bond with Paddy.

“Paul and I have been through it all together in life. We are very close like I am to all my siblings.” 

Paul Hansard, who is a union official with SIPTU added: “Life has been very stressful since the events of that night in August. Our lives were turned into a mess and has torn us all apart. There are so many issues you are hit with when, it comes to medical, financial and practicalities of day-to-day living. 

We are so concerned for Paddy, particularly as he is a 73-year-old pensioner, who for no reason whatsoever was murderously attacked beside his front door, we have to ask ourselves, how safe are old people in that area? How safe is Paddy in that complex? 

“The stress has been and is very difficult to deal with for all of us. The toll it has had is immense. It ripples out along the family to children, grandchildren, great-grandchild, nieces, nephews the list goes on and on. The effects will trickle down for generations to come.”

Miriam w Paul Hansard Paul Hansard after speaking with RTÉ's Miriam O'Callaghan. Source: RTÉ

But Mr Hansard was quick to point out that the help and support the family were inundated with has left them in complete awe of how people can rally round when times prove tough going. 

“Hundreds of people have shown us and Paddy so much support beyond what we could have imagined. The emergency services, medical and hospital staff from across so many departments and the unfailing help of the gardai we have to be thankful to. 

“It shows how much our brother us loved and respected. My brother is a gentleman and we love and respect him to the bottom if our hearts.

“To those who attended a candle lit vigil in Ballybough organised by Lorraine Gavin, to former Dublin Lord Mayor and Independent Councillor Christy Burke, to former work colleagues of his and ours, childhood and family friends.”

Clonliffe House pub management, SIPTU Construction Workers Benevolent Fund, Croke Park GAA, Construction Workers Health Trust and help from people we don’t know, no words will ever be able to encapsulate how much our family have been humbled and are in awe of.

“We fundraised to help meet Paddy’s future medical costs and even the intricacies of that have not been easy to say the least, but we are so grateful for every cent, we have and are receiving in so many different ways.” 

His daughter Linda, who works at Cadbury’s Chocolate, and her four siblings Sandra, Debbie, Paul and Mark are all dealing with what has happened to their much-loved father in different ways. For Linda she continues to try to come terms with how life, “can change within seconds.” 

“I’m so very thankful to be sitting beside my father and to be able to kiss hug him and just look at him. I can’t explain it – the sheer relief. Life stopped for us all because of that night in August. The terror of what unfolded has left us all drained of life,” explained the Mum of three. 

“He is my father and I will do anything for him. He is my flesh and blood.”

The father we had seconds before the attack is not the father and man we have now. Not only has his life changed forever, but so have the lives of his children, grandchildren and great grand-daughter, all of his siblings and close friends. 

“In the blink of an eye so many lives have been changed irrevocably. But we have our father with us and that means everything to us all no matter what road his life will now take in the years to come.”

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About the author:

Sarah Slater

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