Parents of children attending Cregmore national school, about 15km from Galway city, were breathing a huge sigh of relief last night after an articulated truck smashed into almost a dozen cars as they waited to collect their children.
Remarkably, just five people were injured, none of them seriously.
At around 1.40pm yesterday the truck crashed into a car, jack-knifed, crashed through the school wall and smashed into 11 cars, most of which were complete write-offs.
Children from the infant classes were already lined up at the front door of the school ready to go to the collection point.
Last night it emerged they may have come out of school earlier had they not been kept back to say a prayer that an impending planning decision would be in favour of the school getting the green light to build a new hall.
The school is anxiously waiting for a decision by An Bord Pleanála in respect of an application to build a school hall and the prayer service was led by local parish priest Fr Des Walshe.
The accident happened when the truck collided with a car at a crossroads, just yards from the school.
As the truck driver tried desperately to bring his vehicle under control, it careered across the road and towards a low wall in front of a green strip outside the front of the school.
Principal of the 222-pupil coed school Joe Kennelly said he could not believe what he was seeing as the incident unfolded.
"I’m not overly religious, but I certainly believe that prayer saved us here.
"Never in my life have I seen anything like this. It was carnage, like a scene from Beirut and yes, it was that bad."
In all, five people were taken to hospital, including a parent, grandparent, a neighbour who was collecting a friend’s child and two children.
All were said to be in a stable condition at Galway University Hospital last night and their injuries are not believed to be serious.