A mother has spoken of her shock when she learned her two-year-old toddler had wandered from his home in Garryowen in Limerick.

The little boy ended up over a kilometre from his home on one of the busiest roads in the city in the early hours of yesterday.

He was found on the Dublin Road shortly after 2am by University of Limerick student James Ryan, who alerted gardaí.

Mr Ryan, from Graignamanagh in Co Kilkenny, was returning home from work in a local nightclub when he spotted the toddler wandering on the road.

Speaking this afternoon, 26-year-old Christine Costello said her son, Theo, had managed to get out of his cot and out the front door of his home.

Ms Costello said she knew nothing of his disappearance until gardaí arrived at her home at around 4am, asking if she had a boy who was missing.

She checked and saw that Theo was missing from his cot.

"I didn't hear anything, I didn't hear a creaking door, I didn't know any different. 

"I had fallen asleep downstairs, I went straight to bed not realising I hadn't double locked the front door with the key. 

"You couldn't get in from the outside, but you could open it from the inside, it just had to be double locked, but I completely forgot, I just went to bed and didn't know anything." said Ms Costello. 

Gardaí showed her a picture of Theo on their phone and told her that they had her son and that he was safe and well.

Ms Costello said she had put her three children to bed and had fallen asleep around 11pm.

She said Theo would have known the road that he wandered onto as it is the route to his brother Jack’s school.

After checking a number of homes in the area, gardaí located the toddler's home when they noticed the front door open.

Mr Ryan's mother, Joan, said she was "proud and delighted" with her son's actions.

She said: "James was coming home from work at shortly after 2am yesterday morning when he saw a toddler wandering on the road.

"He followed him at a safe distance so as not to scare the child and contacted the gardaí and flagged down a passing taxi.

"I was speaking to James there, he is shying away from all the attention. He just told me anyone would have done the same thing," she said.