Gardai are investigating a bizarre incident where an elderly man allegedly approached a young child and bent down to lick the youngster's face.
The child's horrified mother immediately became distraught and raised the alarm.
Several members of the public ran to help after hearing the woman's shouts.
The alleged incident happened on the main street of Clonakilty in west Cork on Saturday afternoon.
The area was very busy with shoppers and holidaymakers at the time. Gardaí were at the scene within minutes.
The woman was shopping with her child when they were allegedly approached by the well-dressed elderly man.
It is understood the mother, who was standing beside the youngster, initially thought the man just wanted to compliment her child. But he then bent down and appeared to lick the youngster's face.
The child's mother became distraught because of the potential implications of the incident at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the flagrant breach of social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
No injuries were sustained by the child who was said to have been bemused by what had happened.
Gardaí spoke to a number of people at the scene before checking with the staff of several business premises along the street.
A number of properties in the area are equipped with CCTV security camera coverage and gardaí said this is now expected to play a central role in their ongoing investigation into the alleged incident.
A file on the matter is set to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
The elderly man involved is understood to be a resident in the west Cork area and was in Clonakilty undertaking some errands.
One line of inquiry is whether the man involved may have some kind of mental health issue and may not have been aware of the seriousness of the alleged action.
One local said it was a bizarre incident.
"The guards were going door to door in the area asking could they view any CCTV security camera footage because an old man was said to have licked a child's face. I couldn't believe it when I heard it."