He made a career standing up for the common man. Now American Jim Faul is standing up for an entire town in Ireland.
Faul, a labor attorney from St. Louis Missouri, is being hailed a hero in Ireland for pledging to stand up against a notorious violent gang in Tipperary.
The gang attacked Faul and seven other people in Tipperary town on St. Patrick’s Day.
The attackers are well-known – and much-feared – in the community. The gang has terrorized Tipperary town for some time, but residents have been too afraid to report their crimes to the police.
Now Faul is coming to their rescue.
Faul visited Ireland this month expecting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the “land of a thousand welcomes.”
Instead, he was brutally beaten on the streets of Tipperary.
The 29-year-old, along with his wife and sister, were enjoying Tipperary’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. At around 6 p.m., as the day’s festivities were winding down, the group was engulfed in a series of unprovoked, alcohol-infused attacks.
Faul's group had been looking for a pub to have a couple pints when they saw a several men “pushing and shoving,” Faul said.
Faul and his companions tried to steer clear of the scuffle, but the men started to follow them. Within moments, Faul was spun around and beaten by three or four men.
Faul was hit repeatedly for a minute or so until he was covered in blood. A witness called the police, and Faul was taken to a hospital where at least seven other victims from earlier attacks in Tipperary town were being treated.
The next day, Faul was transferred to a hospital in Waterford, and was later sent to a Dublin to be treated by a specialist.
The former union organizer suffered from cuts and bruises, a broken nose, a possible skull fracture behind his eye and a numbness covering most of the left side of his face. Doctors tell Faul his injuries should not cause any permanent damage.
When Faul was released from the hospital, he and his wife attempted to salvage the trip and tour some of Dublin’s sites. But Faul received too many “glares and stares” from passerbys, and “mothers grasping their children” when they saw his face, putting an end to the couple’s vacation ‘fun.’
Since the incident occurred, gardai (Irish police) have arrested two brothers, Dan Delaney, 18, and Ned Delaney, 21. Each are charged with three counts of assault, three counts of assault causing harm and one count of assault on a garda. At least three other suspects have been arrested in connection with the Tipperary attacks.
Irish public officials have profusely apologized to Faul for the pain he has suffered.
Tipperary Mayor Anna Tuohy-Halligan said “We’re all so sorry for what happened to him.” Of the suspects in the attack, she said, “There’s no doubt that they’re thugs. But they’re not the norm – not in Tipperary town – and they’ll certainly pay for the behavior.”
But the attention to the case didn’t end there.
A popular current affairs show on RTE 1, Ireland's national radio network, has run three programs on the attacks, and last week a politician publicly discussed the violence in a session of Ireland's parliament.
Faul has been offered free hotel stays and even tickets to “Celtic Woman.”
Tipperary’s mayor hopes the violent attack on the American tourist won’t stain Ireland’s reputation in the U.S. as a friendly, safe travel destination. Of Faul, she said, “We hope to see him back soon.”
Faul says that the attack has not turned him off Ireland but says “I probably wouldn't go back to Tipperary – unless I have to testify.”