AN IRISH-AMERICAN US Marine veteran has made headlines after fending off a trio of burglars with a little help from an heirloom from his ancestral homeland.
Dan Donovan, 81, from Chicago found himself facing every elderly person’s worst nightmare when his wife, Barbara, discovered thieves upstairs in their house.
While Donovan’s Marine training meant he was better prepared than most, he still required a little help from what he later described as a “persuasive weapon” to run the gang off his property.
He turned to his grandfather’s antique Irish stick for help, chasing the men barefoot out of his house and over to their car, delivering a blow to one intruder's head and smashing the windscreen and window of their getaway vehicle.
Barbara first noticed something was amiss after a man claiming to be a utility worker knocked on their door asking to check their fuse box following a supposed recent fire in the neighbourhood.
However, while Dan set about assisting the man, Barbara heard noises upstairs and immediately alerted her husband to her suspicions.
"I yelled: 'Danny! Somebody’s in our bedroom!'" she told ABC News.
Making their way upstairs, the couple discovered two men ransacking their bedroom.
Donovan turned to his grandad’s trusted Irish shillelagh to see off the intruders.
In a twist of fate, the stick, which has no fixed place in their home, just happened to be at hand at exactly the perfect moment.
"I was trying to find some type of persuasive weapon," he told Pioneer Press.
"So, I picked up the Irish shillelagh, and that turned out to be the equaliser, because I managed to chase them out of the house."
Rightly hailed as a hero, the 81-year-old was satisfied the thieves escaped with “nothing more than a headache” and urged the gang to learn from their encounter and “pursue another occupation”.