Irish couple ‘played dead’ as gunmen carried out attacks

Irish man injured in Paris attacks named as David Nolan from Co Cork

People look at the facade of the Bataclan theatre after police reopened traffic on the Boulevard Voltaire in Paris, France. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

People look at the facade of the Bataclan theatre after police reopened traffic on the Boulevard Voltaire in Paris, France. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

 

An Irish man injured in the Paris terrorist attack on Friday night is today in a stable condition in hospital after undergoing surgery for a gun shot wound to his leg.

The 32-year-old man was named locally in Co Cork as David Nolan from Shanakiel in Rathcoole outside Millstreet. His parents have travelled to France to be with him.

Mr Nolan and his girlfriend were attending the Eagles of Death Metal concert in the Bataclan theatre when three gunmen opened fire and detonated suicide bombs killing 89 people.

It’s understood the couple were visiting Paris for a short break and were on the ground floor of the theatre when the gunmen began firing from the balcony.

Katie Healy, Mr Nolan’s girlfriend, said they were both standing by the door where the gunmen entered the Bataclan.

“I felt a splash on my shoulder during the concert and I turned to David thinking it was someone spilling a drink,” she said.

“We then heard gunfire and sparks and flashing. We realised what was happening and the crowd fell to the side, everybody got up to run and gunshots started again. So we lay on the ground among the bodies of everyone who stayed with us and just played dead.”

She told the RTÉ Nine O’Clock News that David threw himself on top of her twice to protect her.

“It became quiet and you could hear everybody moaning and then single shots started to fire and we realised the gunmen were walking around killing everyone,” she said.

She described how they saw the foot of a gunman walk past them and had said their goodbyes, when someone opened a door near them.

“David wasn’t able to run, he didn’t tell me he’d been shot, so I thought he was just in shock I was trying to run and I just dragged him for as long as I could,” she said.

They managed to get out on the street and were helped by a “kind, kind girl” and eventually found safety by getting into a lift up to a high floor.

“We are beyond lucky; people we stood up and danced with died and we watched them die as we just lay down and played dead. We’re beyond lucky,” she said.

“Paris is a beautiful city and that’s how we’ll remember it. We had a great time at the concert before this happened and that’s what we’ll try to hold on to, but we’ll never forget the people who died.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the Irish embassy was providing consular assistance to Mr Nolan and his family.

Mr Flanagan said Mr Nolan - whom he did not name in his statement - was the only Irish person injured in the attack as far the Irish authorities were aware.

“One Irish citizen who was injured by gunshot in the Bataclan theatre incident is still in hospital in a stable condition,” said Mr Flanagan in a statement.

“Officials from our Embassy in Paris and my Department in Dublin have remained in close contact with the citizen and their family and with the French authorities.

“I also appeal for full respect be shown at all times for the privacy of the injured Irish citizen and their family following what has been a hugely traumatic experience.”

Mr Flanagan said that while all those killed in the Paris have yet to be fully identified, French authorities have given no indication that there are other Irish fatalities or casualties.

The Paris atrocity is the second close escape from tragedy that Mr Nolan has had after he survived a rock fall while visiting the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand in November 2011.

Mr Nolan, who was travelling in New Zealand after attending the rugby World Cup, told New Zealand media about how he and his group had a lucky escape during the rock fall.

“Our guide told us to get down and shield our heads and stay low until it passed. It took us all by surprise really,” Mr Nolan told the 3news TV station in New Zealand.

“If one of those pieces hit one of us and we were on top of the glacier trying to get help and evacuate us we were pretty lucky, it’s Mother Nature for you I guess - unpredictable.

“It was one of the biggest rock falls they had seen in years so he just said as long as everyone was ok we could get ourselves down the glacier as quick as we could,” he added.