Tom and Sharon NcNamara left their home, 74.5 miles north of New York, for an eight day holiday in Ireland. After a freak accident their holiday turned into a nightmare which led them to experience Ireland's "Cead Mile Failte" (One Hundred Thousand Welcomes) in person.

When Sharon (67) suffered life-threatening injuries while horse-riding in County Clare, six weeks ago, they never thought that their nightmare holiday could have been turned into a positive experience by the people they have met.

"After some time in Dublin we travelled to Doolin," Tom explained to the Irish Examiner.

While they were horse riding in Doolin, Sharon's horse bolted. Sharon was thrown against a stone wall as the horse raced down a narrow road. She suffered multiple fractures, crushed her spleen and bruised her lungs. She has been recovering at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital for over a month.

"The doctors and nurses are wonderful, the technology is wonderful," said Tom.

Originally Tom had been staying in the South Court Hotel, to be close by to the hospital.

It was then that Ireland of the Welcomes reared its head. He said "I had to take clothes to the dry cleaners, the Early Bird in Dooradoyle, where I met the owner Dermot McNamara. When I got talking to him and we found we shared names; he said his mother was abroad and invited me to stay at her house. This is one of the most generous things that has ever happened to me. When I told my family back in the States they could not believe it.

"I go into the Unicorn bar across the road from the hospital to eat most days and when people heard about what had happened, they began to treat me as a local and I have made so many friends like the Anglim family. I love the Irish people and the care Sharon is getting is top notch."

When Sharon was hurt a member of the coast guard was first on the scene and attended to her before the ambulance arrived. "That coast guard officer even came to the hospital to visit Sharon to see how she was getting on," said Tom.

Sharon will soon be able to leave hospital and they can prepare to travel home.

Tom added "It is definitely still the Ireland of the welcomes, particularly when you really need it."