An Irish woman, on a holiday gifted to her by family after her husband’s heart surgery, was killed during a terrorist attack in Tunisia yesterday.

Lorna Carty, a nurse from Navan in Co Meath, was one of 38 people shot dead by a gunman who opened fire on the beach in front of the Hotel Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, a resort popular with European tourists. At least 36 others were wounded in the attack. 

The mother-of-two, who was aged in her 50s, was on vacation with her husband Declan, a dairy farmer, and was scheduled to fly home today, the Irish Mirror reports.

Fine Gael TD Ray Butler told RTE NEWS he had been talking to the woman’s grief-stricken husband. “It was one of the hardest phone calls I ever made and it was so sad to hear what happened.

“What I have heard is that a brother-in-law gave the family flights as a gift after the husband had heart surgery

“It was supposed to be a time for them to go and enjoy themselves and relax on holiday.

“It was a gift that has ended so tragically. The community is shocked, the whole area is.” 

Independent councillor Wayne Forde said Navan was stunned after hearing the news.

“Everyone is just gobsmacked, as you can imagine, we just can’t believe this could happen,” he told the Irish Mirror.

“She was just relaxing on the beach and was shot for no reason.

“Everyone here is shocked and devastated.”

He said the victim came from a well-known GAA family.

“Her son Simon plays on the Meath team and was actually supposed to be playing tomorrow.

“She also has a daughter who is on holiday in Turkey at the moment, my heart goes out to them.”

Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “Our people have been in contact with the family, with their relatives. We cannot exclude the possibility of further Irish involvement. We are actively engaged in seeking further information.

“Our priority will be the safe return of Irish citizens at the earliest opportunity.”

Another Irish woman narrowly escaped from the beach with her two young sons during the attack, the Irish Times reports.

Elizabeth O’Brien, from Delgany, Co Wicklow, and her sons, Jordan, 13, and Spencer, 11, ran for their lives when they heard the shooting.

O’Brien said she initially thought the noise was fireworks, but then realized it was gunfire.

“We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. It was about noon and I just looked up about 500 meters from me and I saw a hot air balloon collapse down, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me.

“We just ran, I just thought I need to get my children safe. So I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying ‘run, run run’ and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow.

"The only thing we could do was lock the door. So we were actually trapped in our room.

“It’s very hard to know if you’re leaving people behind that might be injured. My youngest just ran and when we got into the room he put his head in his hands.

“His grandfather died a few days ago and we said we’ll just pray to grandpa.”

O’Brien said she wanted to get out of the country as soon as possible.

She added: “The shock of knowing there’s people dead next door is frightening. It could have been us. I’m supposed to be leaving next week but I’m not staying here a minute longer.

“My travel agent managed to get me on a flight at 10.30pm, so hopefully we will be able to leave.”

The massacre in Tunisia was one of three separate attacks by Islamic extremists on three continents yesterday.

In France, a man beheaded his boss before causing an explosion at a chemical plant near Lyon, and in Kuwait, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Imam al Sadeq mosque in Kuwait, killing at least 25 people.