Clowns with 'chainsaws' enter Dublin's Newpark School in Blackrock
Students and teachers in a Dublin school were left terrified after a group of people dressed as clowns entered the grounds with what looked like a weapon.
Staff at Newpark School in Blackrock called gardaí when three members of a Halloween promotion company showed up with a prop that onlookers say looked "identical" to a chainsaw.
It is understood that the three clowns, who came to hand out leaflets about a Halloween Horror attraction, were not given permission to approach students by school management.
One mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent her daughter was deeply shocked.
"She told me that at least one teacher was panicking," she said. "The level of hysteria among the students was shocking. One of the sixth-year students was screaming, telling everyone to stay indoors."
She added her daughter was left deeply upset by the incident and couldn't sleep when she got home that night.
"I just can't understand it," she added.
"First of all, how could they think about doing something like this to promote a show and how people dressed up as clowns with what looks like a chainsaw and a sledgehammer could get into a school."
The mother also said videos of the incident were now circulating among the students, which were now frightening their peers.
But she also called on the school to reconsider their security procedures following the incident.
In a letter to parents, school principal Derek Lowry said the clowns "entered the school campus without any authorisation" and that one of them "was carrying a prop that looked identical to a chainsaw".
He added that a number of second-years were "distressed" by the incident and asked parents whose children were upset by the incident to get in touch with them.
Mr Lowry also said school authorities had met with local gardaí after the scare and have been in contact with the promotion company involved.
It comes as several horror movie-themed attractions open across Ireland ahead of Halloween.
School management were unavailable for comment when contacted by the Irish Independent.
Gardaí have said the incident is a civil matter and they will therefore not be investigating.
It comes as pranksters dressed as evil clowns terrorise unsuspecting passers-by across the world. Videos of clowns supposedly armed with bloodied weapons have gone viral across the world, notably across the United States and in Britain.
The trend has spread ahead of Halloween. Creepy clowns are a well-known horror trope, made famous by Stephen King's novel 'It', which was later produced as a movie in 1990.
In 2013 a clown, carrying a clown teddy, was reported to be 'terrifying residents' in Northampton, England.
The clown, who remains anonymous, gained worldwide attention and saw copy-cat clowns take to the streets around the world.
The Northampton clown later took to social media to say no harm was intended and it 'just a bit of fun'.
That same year a Carrickfergus clown turned himself in to the PSNI after detectives received reports that he was frightening local children.
The PSNI said later that they had spoken to the man and were satisfied that he had no sinister intentions and it was just a prank.
However the clown craze saw a resurgence this summer when police in South Carolina responded to reports of 'creepy' clowns trying to lure children into woods. Since then, there have been numerous other reports and warnings from police in other US states.
Meanwhile, footage has also emerged of a mob of Penn State University students apparently on the hunt for three clowns spotted in the area.
There is now even a #IfISeeAClown hashtag trending in the US.
Coulrophobia: The fear of clowns
An irrational fear of clowns has come to be known as as coulrophobia. The prefix "coulro" comes from the ancient Greek word for "one who walks on stilts."
Symptoms include feelings of dread, increased heartbeat, sweating, nausea and anger.
A University of Sheffield study from 2008 found that out of 250 children aged four to 16 images of a clown were widely disliked. The researchers said clowns were "universally disliked by children" and that "some found them quite frightening and unknowable."
Perhaps the most famous killer clown was the child murdering monster Pennywise from the 1990 television movie IT. However the killer clown has been a regular feature of several horror films including Clownhouse, Mr Jingles and 2004's In Fear of Clowns.
The genre also includes the 1988 classic 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space', which had the tagline: "In Space No One Can Eat Ice Cream".