A beach wheelchair, paid for by the Ardee Municipal District’s discretionary fund, is now available at Clogherhead beach – allowing disabled persons to experience the beach and the water at Clogherheard, many for the very first time.
The Hippcampe beach wheelchair is managed by Celtic Adventures who are based at Clogherhead beach and any one wishing to avail of it – free of charge – can do so by booking ahead. With the availability of the new beach wheelchair, Louth has become just the second county in Ireland, after Wexford, to make such equipment available to those who need it.
€5,000 from the 2016 Ardee Municipal District discretionary budget, not spent last year, was capitalised back in January to ensure it would be spent on the chair.
On Wednesday, Sin Fein councillor Tom Cunningham, who is on the Ardee Municipal District committee and helped secure funding for the project, expressed his delight at how Clogherheard beach had obtained this much needed and perhaps life-changing piece of equipment.
“We are very lucky. The chair can be used on land and also in the sea and can accommodate adults and children alike. Can you imagine the freedom it would give a disabled person, young or old, to be able to go into the sea without having to be helped or carried, something they would not have been able to do before? And also the fact that it can go across the sand – parents or carers can now wheel their child across the sand instead of sitting on the sidelines,” Cunningham said.
“I know County Wexford has one and as far as I am aware, Louth is the second county in the state to have one.” The Clogherhead based councillor feels that the chair can boost tourism too – as with limited choices available to families who need to use such a beach wheelchair.
“This can only benefit tourism in Louth as families with someone who is disabled are very limited in their choice if they want to visit a beach. Louth and Clogherhead is only too happy to welcome them.”
Cunningham also took time to praise Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster who he says was responsible for bringing the beach wheelchair to the county. “The last thing Imelda Munster did before she left Louth County Council to become a TD was to bring forward a motion calling for disabled persons to be able to go to a beach and to enter the sea like their able-bodied counterparts, something most of us take for granted.
“The motion received unanimous support across the council and today we have our beach wheelchair. I can’t tell you how proud I feel today,” he added.
The Beach Wheelchair is now available from Clogherhead Beach. Celtic Adventures anticipate a demand for its use – especially as the summer months approach – so are asking that people who are interested in using the chair to please pre-book to avoid disappointment. You can do so by calling Dave at Celtic Adventures on 085 875 2767.
The Hippocampe all-terrain beach wheelchair has easy accessibility thanks to a low seat and it’s neutral buoyancy design allows it to be used in or out of the water – including the sea. Sand is no longer a barrier to enjoying the beach either. The chair’s double width wheels make travelling on sand simple.