John Brennan was taken to the neurological intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital in the city. Hospital spokesman Mark D’Antonio said he was in a critical condition.
His parents, Tommy and Mai Brennan, and their three other children, Paraic, Marian and Elaine, traveled from Ireland at the weekend and are sitting by his bedside.
The incident happened around 2:40 a.m. after the Anna Liffey bar on Whitney Avenue closed. According to witnesses, a civil conversation was taking place as patrons were waiting for taxis.
“There was some incident between two guys,” bar owner Ashley Sheridan said. “One was a marine, and the conversation went sour. We don’t know who threw the first insult, but somehow John Brennan got involved and got a thump to the head. He then fell and hit his head on the ground.”
Police have opened an inquiry into the incident and Sheridan said that he had heard that they would make an arrest on Tuesday, but police in New Haven refused to confirm this.
“The kid that hit John was still outside the bar for some time,” Sheridan said. “Then he left before the police arrived.”
According to Sheridan, the young man was on a three-month vacation to the area with friends from Kilkenny.
“This used to be a very Leitrim-dominated area,” he said, “but more recently there are a lot of Kilkenny people here. He was underage as well. We should not have been serving him, but in the five years that this bar has been open, we have never had a single incident of this kind before.”
A police spokesperson in New Haven refused to comment on the case, but said that “possible [additional] action would be taken” in the next few days.
Sheridan said that the area rarely saw any incidents after closing time, and the bar “normally has an older clientele.”
“You have to be careful with underage drinking in a university town,” he said.
Anna Liffey’s was voted best Irish restaurant in New Haven by the New Haven Advocate in 2001.