19 August 2021
By Elaine Murphy
A new all-terrain wheelchair to help people living with a disability enjoy the blue-flag Redbarn Beach in Youghal has been put into service. The wheelchair is the first one of its kind in East Cork and is the result of a partnership between Cork County Council, the Disability Federation of Ireland, Cork Sports Partnership, The Irish Wheelchair Association and the Quality Hotel & Leisure Centre Redbarn.
The ‘Hippocampe Beach and All Terrain Wheelchair’ helps individuals with disabilities to access the beach and allows users to share experiences with family and friends. The seat is composed of thick and hydrophobic foam that does not absorb water and dries quickly, allowing those who use it to enjoy both the sandy shoreline and the crystal-clear waters of Redbarn.
First to use the chair were Leanne Hehir and 12-year-old Scarlet Beecher. Scarlet said she was delighted to be able to enjoy the beach in such a comfortable chair, adding that she
“hoped no one else would book it so she could stay in it all day”.
Scarlet’s dad Noel added,
“This chair is a fantastic addition to the beach and a much need piece of equipment which would make the beach experience a much more enjoyable one for people with mobility issues”
The wheelchair will be available in two-hour slots, free of charge, for the duration of the beach guard season.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan, said,
“The beach at Redbarn is for use by every citizen, and this chair allows people living with a disability to enjoy an experience that others may take for granted. I would like to commend all of the agencies who came together to make this happen and look forward to seeing the chair in regular use in the weeks ahead”.
Deputising for the Mayor at the launch, Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley, who hails from Youghal, also welcomed the new initiative. She said
“Nature provided us with a wonderful amenity at Redbarn, and I have long campaigned for a wheelchair such as this to ensure that everyone could enjoy the experience.”
Deputy Chief Executive of Cork County Council, James Fogarty, said,
“The arrival of this specialist wheelchair is the culmination of a lot of hard work on behalf of the Council and partner agencies. Cork County Council is committed to delivering for all of its citizens. A similar initiative in West Cork has proved to be hugely successful, and I have no doubt that this chair in Redbarn will ensure great family days out at a wonderful location.”
Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has been working to ensure that people living with disabilities should not be excluded from one of the most defining experiences of an Irish summer – a day out with family or friends on one of our magnificent beaches.
Áine O’Sullivan, Community Development Officer with Disability Federation of Ireland said
“It’s fantastic to be working with Cork County Council, Cork Sports Partnership, Irish Wheelchair Association & community groups on this project. Beach days can be a very exciting day for all the family, but unfortunately not all can have the same experience as some Irish beaches are just not suitable for people with mobility issues. Plan ahead and enjoy what Ireland has to offer you”,
Kate Feeney, Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Cork Sports Partnership added
“Cork Sports Partnership are delighted to support increasing access for people of all abilities to beaches in Cork and fund the Hippocampe Beach and All Terrain Wheelchair through the Sport Ireland, Sports Inclusion Grant. The wheelchair will offer children and adults with a disability the opportunity to access and enjoy the beach with their families. We look forward to seeing many families benefit from this beach wheelchair and commend this inclusive community approach.”
Anyone looking to book the new all-terrain wheelchair is asked to make a booking in advance through The Quality Hotel & Leisure Centre Redbarn on 024-93095.