The wife of a Catholic man who was beaten in a sectarian attack in Kilkeel says the family have been overwhelmed by well-wishes from people in the town.
Paschal Morgan, a devoted family man and building contractor by trade, is well respected in the area for providing employment to both sides of the community.
But now Rachel Morgan says she is trying to keep strong after her husband was seemingly targeted out for his background.
He was left with horrific injuries after he was assaulted on the Greencastle Road in the Co Down town on Sunday night.
She said: “The initial shock of seeing him was I didn’t recognise him at all. It was horrific, you would think he had been through a car accident.
“The impact to the face and head, the swelling was unbelievable and his eyes were out to here - he couldn't open them and he was unconscious, he couldn't respond at all.”
“He only saw his face for the first time yesterday, he was very emotional,” she continued.
“It’s still not all sunk in. He’s still in shock.”
Rachel says their daughter Shannon has been left traumatised by finding her badly injured dad on the roadside.
He had called her for a lift home after leaving a local hotel when a man allegedly directed sectarian comments towards him.
Detectives investigating the assault are treating it as a sectarian hate crime and have questioned a 34-year-old man.
She said: “My daughter who came across it, and thank God she did or he could have been dead. That shock, she’s frightened to sleep at night, she’s just completely heartbroken too, both children are.”
Since the attack, the Morgan family have been overwhelmed by calls and good wishes from the people of Kilkeel and further afield.
Rachel said: “He's such a quiet man and would never get into confrontation with anybody and he’s definitely nothing against any religion.
“The town of Kilkeel, I think has changed these years, I think it’s fantastic - it just goes to show there's only a few still bad boys out there, the majority of our friends and our daughter's horse friends are from the Protestant community and they’ve all been lovely and all sent well-wishes.
“Everybody in the community is shocked and appalled by it.”
Paschal Morgan will need more surgery for his life changing injuries in the weeks ahead but he has his family and community's best wishes to see him through.
“It’s my husband’s home and he loves Kilkeel," his wife added.
“I have been happy here and I wouldn’t have a small minority of bullies make me move anywhere.”