Saturday July 30th dawned overcast and cloudy but it was not raining and Jean and I headed toward Dublin for the wedding of my nephew, Conor Meany to his beautiful fiancé Lyndsey O’Neill.
This is not a commentary on the wedding which was absolutely brilliant. This is a critique of accessibility, or inaccessibility. I have said many times before that being able to get into and from a building is not sufficient to claim accessibility. If a person with mobility issues can’t get in it matters not what’s inside and if what is inside is not user friendly there is no point in going in.
We broke the journey in Midway, Portlaoise. There are a good number of designated parking spaces at the front door and the toilet is wheelchair accessible. There are a number of food outlets inside with a good selection of food to quell any tummy rumblings and keep us going until we reached our next watering hole.
The nuptial mass was held in St Brigid’s Church, Killester, Dublin which was about a 3 hour drive from Cork but our trusty SatNav got us to the church on time. St Brigid’s Church has ample car parking spaces and the most gently sloped ramp I have used in a long time. After the mass was finished and Conor and Lyndsey had officially been declared married we headed for Bellinter House, Navan, Co Meath for the celebration.
Considering that Bellinter (Click Here) was constructed in the late 18th century it would be unrealistic to expect it to be truly wheelchair accessible and it wasn’t. Some efforts had been made but they had not been adequately thought through. The elevator to the reception area was around the rear of the house, effectively outside the back door. It is a platform elevator that required an operator on the platform and another on the first floor and that was after an almost impossible journey over a stone covered courtyard. The hotel did provide a staff member to drag me to the lift and subsequently to our bedroom. The staff did as much as they could but the concept of independence was shot on seeing the gravelled courtyard and further died on seeing the elevator.
Our room was spacious and comfortable but the en-suite facilities fell short. The bathroom was more than spacious and the sink and mirror were set at an acceptable level; the toilet had a drop rail and grab rail at the appropriate height but the shower lacked any rails or seating and was impossible for me to use.
It was now time for the reception to begin and it began by me being dragged backwards over the courtyard gravel then around the front of the house, which was tarmacadam and was a comfortable spin, and into the second courtyard which was also gravelled. The only way in for me was to be dragged backwards again. There was a perfect concrete path connecting the function room to the Spa Area but that was of no use to me, unfortunately. The function room was perfectly accessible and boasted a modern wheelchair accessible toilet. As my bedtime approached I faced the drag across both courtyards again but thankfully I did not have to use the elevator.
More dragging across the courtyards before breakfast the next morning; the dining area was accessible but I think this was more by accident than design.
My one comment to the owners of Bellinter is why did you go so far but did not finish?
After a hearty breakfast and long goodbyes we headed for home. We stopped in Kildare Village (Click Here) for a break and bought Jack his first pair of boots.
To people who don’t know Kildare Village it is an outlet mall with plenty of designated car parking spaces, is totally wheelchair accessible and has a number of wheelchair accessible toilets. We then back to the motorway and headed home.