Brazilian student living in Limerick beaten in racially-motivated attack

33-year-old Roberto Junior Leonardo Gonçalves has been living in Limerick since Christmas 2021. Photo courtesy of Roberto Junior Leonardo Gonçalves.

Don’t stop to talk to anyone and if someone asks you where you’re from, lie.

That was the advice members of Limerick’s South American community were sharing following a seemingly racially-motivated attack that left a Brazilian man needing emergency treatment this past Saturday night (April 13).

Brazilian native Roberto Junior Leonardo Gonçalves and his brother were attacked by an unidentified man in a violent incident that saw Roberto sent to hospital and his brother’s e-scooter broken.

According to the 33-year-old Brazilian man, he and his brother were approached by a man who asked them where they were from. When the brothers answered “we are from Brazil”, Roberto says, the man produced a weapon and attacked them.

Roberto told the Limerick Post that he received a blow to his head which left a large open wound above his left eye, which had to be stitched at University Hospital Limerick.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“I really thanked God that it was a blow to the head and six stitches, because it could have been a knife and I lost my life. I don’t think it would change anything for the man who did it,” Roberto told the Limerick Post following the attack.

“I think if he had a knife at that moment, I wouldn’t be here today to tell you this.”

The incident took place in the area of the Bloodmill Road and Childers’ Road at around 10.30pm last Saturday night.

Roberto says he had been walking home from finishing his shift at work when the attacker set upon him and his brother.

“My brother and I were approached by a man who asked us where we are from and after my brother replied that ‘we are from Brazil’, he simply pulled out a bat from his pants and hit me in the head,” he said.

The Brazilian man was stitched at University Hospital Limerick following the attack. Photo courtesy of Roberto Junior Leonardo Gonçalves.

“After that blow to the head, my forehead started gushing blood and I could only run.”

‘I had never left Brazil before’

The Brazilian victim told the Limerick Post that the attack has left him temporarily unable to work.

Roberto first arrived in Limerick to study English shortly after Christmas Day in 2021. He is numbered among Limerick’s large South American community, whose members have expressed fear following the attack.

“It was the first trip of my life. I had never left Brazil before,” he told the Limerick Post.

“I was about to leave. I was just trying to save some money to return to Brazil, but now after that I’m scared of staying here. My plans to leave in June will probably be brought forward.

“My family and friends in Brazil are worried about all this.”

When asked about the seemingly racially-motivated attack, a Garda representative said that “Gardaí are investigating an assault on a man in his 30s that occurred at approximately 10.30pm on Saturday 13th April, 2024, on the Bloodmill Road in Limerick City”.

The spokesman added that “investigations are ongoing”.

‘Don’t stop to talk to anyone’

Roberto’s terrifying encounter comes as further unconnected attacks on migrants in Limerick, also believed to be Brazilian, have been circulated in video footage online in the past number of days.

The footage shows a man assaulting two unidentified men in two separate incidents on Little Catherine Street and Cruises Street in the city. It was posted to the TikTok platform with the caption “#prank”.

Roberto shared images of the aftermath of the vicious attack with the Limerick Post.

In the wake of these attacks, members of Limerick’s South American community have been rallying around one another and sharing advice in online forums.

The advice is “don’t stop to talk to anyone” and “don’t say or lie” if someone asks where you’re from.

The Limerick Post has received a number of concerned emails in the days since the attack, with one South American resident saying she has been “deeply troubled by the recent surge in racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Latinos in our community”.

“As someone who works night shifts in pubs, the fear of going to and from work has become overwhelming.”

When asked for comment on the attacks recorded in the social media videos, a Garda spokesman said “I cannot, at this time, locate any reported incident matching these details”.

When asked if Gardaí have any safety advice for the concerned migrant community in Limerick who have been rocked by the attacks, the Garda spokesperson said “advice on personal security can be found on the Garda website”.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in the days since the violent attack to help Roberto raise funds to return home to Brazil. It can be found on