A young Irish student is in critical condition in Chicago after being attacked with a baseball bat in the early hours of Friday morning.

Natasha McShane, 23, a student at the University of Illinois, was returning home after being out when she and another woman, McShane's friend Stacy Jurich, were attacked by the baseball-wielding mugger who hit the women and made away with their purses.

McShane is believed to be from South Armagh and her family is on their way out to Chicago to be with her.

Consular assistance is being given to the McShane family by Department of Foreign Affairs representatives in Chicago.

McShane had just started an internship after finishing her studies at the University of Illinois.

McShane has an impressive academic record.  After completing a degree at Queens University, the 23-year-old did her MA in Urban and Regional planning at University College Dublin.

She was also the recipient of 2008 cross border scholarship designed to encourage students from the North to study in the South and vice/versa.