Friday 14th August Jean and I headed to the picturesque West Cork village of Glengarriff for the wedding of my nephew Sean Groeger to Heidi Monahan. It was a lovely ceremony performed by Fr. Pádraig Kennelly in the Church of Sacred Heart which is totally wheelchair accessible.
We then had a 45 minute cross-country jaunt to Liss Ard Estate on the outskirts of Skibbereen (Click Here For Details).
This blog is not about the fantastic wedding, or the brilliant company or the first class food, it is about the hotel and its accessibility, or in this case, the lack thereof. The hotel has never had a wheelchair user as an overnight guest hence the title.
It is a beautiful house built around 1850 so it is no real surprise that the house was not constructed with accessibility in mind. Further accommodation was added with the conversion of the stables and that is only marginally more accessible. Accessibility is about more than just getting into and out from a building; it is about getting into a building and then being able to get around and use the facilities without being totally reliant on the kindness of others. It is about independence. There was no shortage of willing helpers at Liss Ard both from my family and hotel staff but having willing and able helpers is no substitute for independence.
Our ground-floor bedroom was spacious with plenty circulation space but that was as good as it good as it got. The toilet cubicle was so small that it was difficult to close the inward opening door once inside, even for a non-wheelchair user. There was a small step into the shower/bath area. The shower and bath both had a small hand rail fitted. These were fitted in preparation for my visit.
There were a number of steps up to the reception area and two portable ramps were purchased to address the accessibility issue. Accessibility was further complicated by more steps up to three reception rooms and the toilet. Access to this area was accomplished by joining one of the external ramps to another movable ramp.
The dining room was down stairs and there was neither an elevator nor ramp available. See the attached photographs as to how I accessed the dining room. On a positive note the accessible toilet was properly fitted out with the sink at the right level. There was no mirror over the sink and the emergency call button was three feet off the ground.
I spoke with the manager Timo Stern before I left and made a few suggestions and said that I would welcome a call when the work is complete to have a look at it
Overall star rating – 0
Full marks to the staff for effort but on this issue actions speak louder than words.