The woman was believed to have been trying to save her dog when she was attacked by a cow Getty

A woman is in critical condition and her dog dead after they were attacked by a rampaging cow at a popular beauty spot in Northern Ireland.

The tragedy happened when the woman was walking her dog on Devenish Island in Lower Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, on Sunday morning (28 August).

She was visiting the idyllic monastic site on a private cruiser with her son at the time, according to the Fermanagh Herald.

Her injuries are believed to have been sustained after she tried to save her dog from being attacked by cattle.

The woman, who has not been named but is not believed to be local, was airlifted to the South West Acute hospital in Enniskillen and later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

A relative said she had undergone emergency surgery on her back and colon, but she is in a critical condition.

The rescue operation, which involved the Irish Coastguard helicopter from County Sligo and a lifeboat from Enniskillen, also retrieved the dog. It was taken to a vet but later died of its injuries.

An RNLI spokesman said: "Enniskillen RNLI and Rescue Water Craft attended the helicopter evacuation of an injured lady on Devenish Island. The volunteer crew, who were training at the time, were tasked by Belfast Coastguard and proceeded to the island. One of the crew stayed with the lady who had suffered back injuries while paramedics were transferred by the boat from the mainland. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter (Rescue 118) was tasked from Sligo and they airlifted the lady to the nearby South West Acute Hospital."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities added: "The incident occurred on private land. The department is involved with discussions with relevant authorities and the landowner to ascertain exactly what happened."

The Health Service Executive for Northern Ireland said it was also investigating the matter.

devenish island
Devenish Island, the site of the cow attack, in Lower Lough Erne WikiCommons/Titanic