Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pitt Bros BBQ

Pitt Bros BBQ
Unit 1, Wicklow House, Georges Street, Dublin 2

Meat, meat, GLORIOUS meat. With a menu that boasts craft beers, five different meat dishes either smoked or pulled and a selection of mouth-watering sides, Pitt Bros BBQ is not the type of place for people with a plain palette. You get a decent portion for under €15 and when you think you can devour no more, there's a free pour your own ice cream cone on offer. When we went there, the happiness levels went from a stuffed plateau of content to soaring joy with the arrival of the cones. Great spot.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the chairs are moveable here but the tables are often communal so you might have to wait a while to get a spot for all of your party. 

Doors: The doors are a little heavy but chairs fit in nicely. 

Ground: Concrete floor in the seating area and tiled bathroom floor. 

Stairs: No steps in or out. 

Bathrooms: The wheelchair bathroom is huge here. You could probably raise a small family here if you were brazen enough. Plus, they have TWO sinks in there. Spoiled. 

Spaciousness: In the seating area, it can be a little crowded but choose your seat wisely and you should have a clear path to the bathroom and the main door. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff are very helpful here in regards to which meat you would like and which table would be best suited to your chair. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot on Dame Court, as well as plenty of on street parking, and two wheelchair spots on Drury Street where there is also a car park and more on street parking spots. Map here

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? Pitt Bros BBQ lost one point because it can be a bit crowded which would interfere with you getting a decent table to suit your chair. Because you cannot pre-book a table, it's walk-in only which means that it's luck of the draw for a suitable table. Otherwise, great spot with incredible food. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (Grand Canal Theatre)

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2

It took a while for Dublin to get a theatre that was deserving of Broadway and West End productions but with the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre - where every seat has a good view - the wait was worth it. Surrounded by restaurants with theatre-based menus, the swanky Marker Hotel and a Fresh shop with a hearty pick n' mix selection, the entire Grand Canal Square is geared towards an evening out.

What has it got?

Seating: Wheelchair users have options when they book tickets here. You can either have an aisle seat and hop out of your chair or there are spaces where you can wheel in and join a row or there are moveable chairs in the wing areas. When you are booking tickets in person or on the phone, clarify what you need and they will sort you out.

Doors: The doors are all very wide and you might need to give a heave to get some of them open but they are normally manned by the staff. 

Ground: The entrance is tiled and the venue area is carpeted. 

Stairs: Wherever there are stairs, there is also a lift. The ground level seating area is mostly on sloped ground but there are steps at the back section and up in the tiered seating balcony. 

Bathrooms: There is at least one wheelchair bathroom on every floor and they are very spacious. However, they could do with a few more larger bathrooms to cater for the crowds. 

Spaciousness: There is a lot of room here, especially in the foyer. 

Helpfulness of Staff: They are very helpful here and they have a lot of information on their website here in other ways that they can assist in terms of access. 

Parking: There is a car park below the theatre and you can pre-book wheelchair spots through Q Park's website

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? The design of the theatre is very open so there is a lot of space. The option of seating arrangements for wheelchair users and their friends/family is a major plus. From the Access section of their website, you can see that they have given it a lot of consideration and nothing feels like a last minute arrangement. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hailo: Wheelchair Taxis

Last night, I was ordering a taxi on my Hailo app. I normally do not tick the 'Wheelchair Accessible' option because I can transfer from chair to car without assistance but I decided to try it out this time because I had surgery on my foot and needed to "take it easy".

In Hailo, if you click into Account and then Options, you can say yes or no to a Wheelchair Accessible taxi.

In my mind, this would mean a taxi with a ramp as that is specifically wheelchair adapted whereas most cars - if their boot is big enough - can physically take a wheelchair without any adaptions made.

A car arrived a few minutes later and it was a regular car. I didn't mind because I could still hop in and out without without putting too much pressure on my foot but, funnily, the taxi driver asked me if he was correct in describing his car as wheelchair accessible. It was his first time putting that as an option and my first time ticking it as an option so we were as clueless as each other.

When he ticked it, he meant that he would take wheelchair users and would help in anyway that he can. However, he was conflicted because if someone couldn't get out of their chair, they would have to wait for another taxi to come along that was properly accessible.

What I want to know is: Should Hailo go into more details about wheelchair accessibility on their app?

My driver didn't know what to do because he noted that some drivers would point blank refuse to take wheelchair users (something I have unfortunately experienced myself) so he wanted people to know that he would take them no matter what.

What have your experiences with wheelchair accessible taxis been like and how do you think Hailo should describe it?

UPDATE (2 December '13):
Hailo got back to me on the matter and - by their definition - when a taxi drivers chooses the option of 'wheelchair accessible', the taxi should have the following:

Hold a wheelchair SPSV license
Have an appropriate ramp or lift
Have all wheelchair restraints
Have the wheelchair symbol on their roofsign

They also stated:

Hailo prides itself on its ability to provide the four major cities of Ireland with a well stocked fleet of both wheelchair and non-wheelchair accessible taxis, with a current fleet of 129 wheelchair accessible taxis, the largest of its kind in the country. 
We are currently reviewing our own internal processes, with an audit conducted this morning to ensure that drivers that list their vehicle as 'wheelchair accessible', hold a fully updated SPSV License which asserts this fact.  
Hailo currently favours wheelchair users when ordering a cab, extending the typical radius for cab allocation, this extension offers our wheelchair users the greatest possible opportunity to receive a Hailo cab. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Viewmount Restaurant, Co. Longford

Viewmount Restaurant
Viewmount House, Dublin Road, Co. Longford

Before visiting Viewmount House, I knew three things about Longford. 1) My cousins live there, 2) my good friend Alan is from there and 3) Luigi's on Main Street Longford serve some damn fine curry chips. I now know that if you want the most mouth-watering beef, go here. It is slow cooked over the course of 48 hours and, to steal a line from my cousin Rob, you could cut it with a butter knife. Flippin' elicious.

What has it got?

Seating: The tables and chairs are all moveable here. 

Doors: The majority of the doors inside are wide and easy to push open. I used the side entrance to get in and they had double doors there and they both opened easily. 

Ground: Inside, the floor is wooden. Outside, there is cobblestones and tar. The cobbles aren't too difficult to cross as the grooves aren't too deep. 

Stairs: There are a few steps inside the restaurant but if you ring ahead and inform them of what you need, they will bring you in the side entrance which is flat. 

Bathrooms: They have a big wheelchair bathroom here. Unfortunately, there is no lock on the door so pee with your eye sharply on the door. 

Spaciousness: There was plenty of room for me but when you are making a booking, again, inform them of what you need so they can accommodate you properly. 

Helpfulness of Staff: They were incredibly helpful here. They covered every aspect and they're very prepared when guests that use wheelchairs arrive. 

Parking: They allowed us to park right beside the door so I had less ground to cover, which was very handy.

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? It lost one point simply because I had to use a different entrance to combat the steps inside. Other than that, it was a great experience. Longford is very lucky to have a restaurant like this. Luigi's finally has some serious competition. 

Friday, November 8, 2013


23 Benburb Street, Dublin 7

Located on the skirting board of Stoneybatter and Smithfield, you will find Wuff, a cool little café/restaurant that offers a hefty and tasty lunch at a decent enough price. It's a good corner to munch away the lunchtime hunger pains (the chips are fab) and watch half of Dublin's population stroll by.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the tables have moveable chairs so you can slip your chair in nicely.

Doors: The front doors have a double door and you will need someone to open up both of these to fit through.

Ground: The floor is tiled. 

Stairs: There are no steps to be found in Wuff which is luffly just a big slope up to the bathrooms. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom and there is plenty of room in here. 

Spaciousness: Wuff wasn't too packed when I was there so I had no problems with getting around. However, when it fills up, you might have to ask people to pull in their chairs. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff were very helpful and taught us the knack of unlocking the double doors. 

Parking: There is plenty of on street parking close by. There are specific wheelchair spots in the area. I will update this with precise locations shortly. 

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? I had no problems here with my wheelchair at all and the lunch menu was delicious so all in all, a top notch job from Wuff. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Da Mario, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Da Mario
Maynooth Road, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Whenever I go back to the homestead, Marios is the restaurant that my family go to celebrate anything. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations or just a Friday night. It's a family-run Italian restaurant and they know their food and wine, particularly of the Sicilian variety, like the back of their hands. All of their pasta and pizza comes as a gluten-free option and they have an adjoining takeaway.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the tables have moveable chairs and if you mention when you are booking that there is a wheelchair user in your party, they'll make sure your table is easy to get to. 

Doors: The front doors are a little tight to navigate but a wheelchair fits through them. The doors out to the bathroom are wide and easy to open. 

Ground: The floors are tiled. 

Stairs: There is one large step at the front door but it is completely flat outside. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom with all of the correct bars and handrails. 

Spaciousness: As the place fills up, tables and chairs and bodies can block your path but if you have a table on the edge of the eating area, you will be fine. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff are very helpful here as they always help me in and out at the front step and hold all the doors open for me. 

Parking: There is a car park at the back of Marios which has wheelchair parking available. 

Rating: 8/10

Why did it lose points? The entrance is a bit tricky as the there is a step in and, after that, you immediately meet a set of doors. This means that you definitely need helping getting in and out if you are in a wheelchair. Other than that, the inside is completely flat and the wheelchair bathroom is practically perfect. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Voodoo Lounge

Voodoo Lounge
39-40 Arran Quay, Dublin 7

The last time I was in Voodoo Lounge, I was 17 and masquerading as a rocker. While I have given up the charade of pretending to like Billy Talent, this place is still going and, lo and behold, it has improved over the years. I managed to see Bantum and Alright the Captain there on Saturday night as well as my friend Gary giving a 10/10 impression of Rihanna. It's a grand spot for some music and being ridiculous with your mates. 

What has it got?

Seating: There are a number of low tables with moveable chairs but it is mostly high stools and tables here as well as booths with fixed chairs. There are a couple of couches near the pool table. 

Doors: The doors were a little heavy but they are wide enough for a wheelchair. 

Ground: In the hallway, the floor is tiled and in the bar, they have wooden floors. 

Stairs: There is an upstairs seating area but everything you need is on the ground floor with no steps anywhere. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom - huzzah! You don't need to ask at the bar for the key - huzzah!

Spaciousness: Plenty of room here. I had no problems with getting to and from the bar or the bathroom. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The bouncers helped me out with the doors making sure I was alright. 

Parking: There is wheelchair parking around the back of Voodoo in Smithfield Square as well as plenty of street parking. 

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? Voodoo is very easy to get around which is a huge triumph for a bar with live music.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dublin Food Co-Op

Dublin Food Co-Op
12 Newmarket, Dublin 8

I regularly go to the Co-Op's Sunday markets where you can find a whole array of things that you don't necessarily need but you definitely want. My vices tend to be Tina Turner records but you can get loads of bric-a-brac for your house, vintage clothes, jewelry, artisan coffee and delicious cakes.

The market is open on Thursdays and Saturdays too with plenty of fruit and veg on sale as well as dry foods.

The first Sunday of every month hosts the Vintage Fair
The second Sunday sees Fusion Sundays
The third Sunday you'll find the Brocante Market
The last Sunday of every month sees the Dublin Flea Market taking over

What has it got?

Seating: At the café part of the market, there are tables with moveable chair but it mostly has picnic tables with fixed benches which can be difficult for a wheelchair user to use.

Doors: All of the doors are kept open here but they are all very wide.

Ground: Concrete/painted concrete

Stairs: Wherever there are steps, there is also a ramp. The entrance is flat. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom which is very big. There is a baby changing area in here too but it doesn't take up too much room. 

Spaciousness: The market tends to fill up very quickly so it can be tough to deal with the crowds between the stalls. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The stall owners will accommodate you in their own way but you are sort of left to your own devices here. 

Parking: There is free parking every Sunday but it can be tough to find a free space. I have yet to find a specific wheelchair parking spot here but if I park on the edge of a row of cars, I can get my chair in and out easily. If there is a wheelchair parking spot there somewhere, it is well hidden. 

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? Other than a lack of specific wheelchair parking, the only difficulties here are caused when it is very busy with people. Otherwise, everything in place at the Co-Op is practically perfect. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pho Viet

Pho Viet
162 Parnell Street, Dublin 1

Parnell Street is a haven of affordable and tasty Asian food but Vietnamese restaurant Pho Viet really hits the nail on the head for all of that and more. Main courses come in at around €8.50 and they have very decent servings. You can bring your own wine and beer, with wine corkage at €5 per bottle and beer at €1 per bottle, you can have a delicious meal and an even tastier price.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the chairs are moveable and the tables fit a wheelchair nicely. 

Doors: The doors are a little bit heavy but they are wide. 

Ground: It's a tiled white surface, possibly a little slippy when wet. 

Stairs: The entrance is flat and there is more seating upstairs. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom on the ground level. It is big and has a lot of hand rails in place. It is home to a Hoover and some old stereos but that is certainly better than a manky smelling mop. 

Spaciousness: The tables are all quite close together which means that when it's busy, you will have to ask people to shimmy aside.

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff are very helpful here. They rearranged tables for me and cleared a path so I could get to the bathroom. They're also great at recommending which dishes to get. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot across the road outside Fibbers pub. 

Rating: 9.5/10

Why did it lose points? It lost half a point simply because it's a small space and could get tough to move a wheelchair through. Otherwise, it's a great spot to grab dinner with some mates. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The O2, Dublin

The O2 (but The Point forever in our hearts)
Northwall Quay, Dublin 1

For a long time, Dublin's biggest concert venue was The Point. It was a large warehouse with the mystique of a large, red velvet curtain separating us from the toilets and popcorn stands. In 2008, it reopened as The O2, the exact venue that you can find across the UK. For every complaint you can make about poor sound quality, remember, you're never more than a mere skip and a jump from one of their 14 bars.

What has it got?

Seating: There is an assigned wheelchair area (limited space so be sure to buy a ticket for the wheelchair area if you need it) with fold-up chairs provided for you, your friend or your carer. 

Doors: The doors are all very wide and easy to open. 

Ground: It's a type of lino which means that it doesn't become a complete ice rink when drinks spill. 

Stairs: There's lifts to every floor and at the end of the concert, all wheelchair users are brought to a larger, industrial lift to skip the queues for the main lifts. 

Bathrooms: To every ladies and gents with dozens upon dozens of cubicles, there is one wheelchair bathroom which is very large. You will often have to queue up for these. 

Spaciousness: Plenty of room here. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The O2 "angels" will direct you to your seats and help with the lift. Inside the venue, the staff in blue shirts are very helpful with getting to and from your seats. 

Parking: There is wheelchair parking available in the Gibson Hotel car park beside The O2. There is onstreet wheelchair parking but these are rarely free. 

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? I docked The O2 one point because you will always have the same view at a concert here. The wheelchair viewing area has a decent view but if you go there regularly, if you could shake it up a little, that would be great. 
At least the silver lining here is that if you buy a wheelchair ticket a lot of the time, you will get a free ticket for your carer/assistant/friend. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hard Working Class Heroes: The Access Guide

Hard Working Class Heroes is a great festival that showcases some of the best music going on in the country right now and it takes place across Dublin's city centre. For €45, you can see over 100 bands in seven different over the course of three days (October 3-5). But if you're in a wheelchair or on crutches, what does that mean for you?

Here's a quick guide to all of the venues and their surrounding areas which will, hopefully, make your weekend a bit easier to navigate.

The Workman's Club, Dublin 2
Reviewed here
Wheelchair bathroom: No
Flat surface into stage area: Yes
How to get there: The Workman's is along the Liffey and if you can avoid Temple Bar, you will have a smooth trek there.

The Button Factory, Dublin 2
Reviewed here
Wheelchair bathroom: Yes
Flat surface into stage area: Yes
How to get there: Unfortunately, The Button Factory is in the motherland of cobblestones: Temple Bar. Bit of a nuisance but once inside, all is well.

Twisted Pepper, Dublin 1
Reviewed here
Wheelchair bathroom: Yes (ask for key at the bar)
Flat surface into stage area:
Ground level - Yes
Basement - No
How to get there: Abbey Street is a little rough in places (talking about the paths here) but it is easy enough to get through.

Meeting House Square, Dublin 2
Wheelchair bathroom: Portaloos a-go-go
Flat surface into stage area: Yes
How to get there: If you stick to the paths of Temple bar, you shouldn't have any nasty encounters with cobblestones.

The Mercantile, Dublin 2
Wheelchair bathroom: No (you must use the bathroom in the hotel next door)
Flat surface into stage area: Yes
How to get there: Dame Street is fairly easy to navigate just make sure you use the right entrance to the Mercantile as some of them have steps in.

The New Theatre, Dublin 2
According to their website, "The New Theatre is wheelchair accessible (except motorised wheelchairs)"
Wheelchair bathroom: Yes
Flat surface into stage area: Yes
How to get there: Have your sports bra on as Temple Bar's cobbles are there to cause havoc.

Bad Bobs, Dublin 2
Reviewed here
Wheelchair bathroom: Yes
Flat surface into stage area: Yes (lift to all floors)
How to get there: You guessed it, Temple Bar. Cobbles. Take heed.

The Button Factory

The Button Factory
Curved St., Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Updated: 23. 02. 14

The Button Factory is a nifty music venue that hosts a wide array of bands, musicians and DJs. They put on regular club nights at the weekend and now, with its recent renovation, there's a new bar at the front which is very cool.

What has it got?

Seating: In at the new bar, the majority of the tables have moveable chairs and there are some high stools as well. In at the music venue, there is a fixed couch that runs around the walls as well as some moveable stools. In the hallway, the fixed couch is a great spot for people watching and gossiping. 

Doors: The doors are wide and relatively easy to open. 

Ground: The ground is a mix of carpet and black lino. 

Stairs: The ladies and gents are in the basement and there is a flight of stairs up to the smoking and balcony area. There is no lift. There are a couple of steps down to the music venue but there is a slope down which will bring you to the front of the stage. 

Bathrooms: There is a lot of space and plenty of bars to hold onto in their wheelchair bathroom. It also has a sliding door so your chair won't get caught coming in or going to. They have also added more ladies and gents toilets on the ground floor so you don't have to traipse down into the basement.  

Spaciousness: Since the renovation, they have cut back on some space in the venue. The door at the back of the venue immediately brings you to some steps so if you use the door at the front, you will have more space. However, it's a pity that they didn't incorporate a proper platform area for people that need a bit of a lift to enjoy a gig. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The bouncers and staff seem like a sound bunch here. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot on Wellington Quay and two wheelchair parking spots up beside Dublin Castle on Cork Hill

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? The Button Factory lost one point because, with the renovation, they could have done a little bit more to improve accessibility.  It is such a huge pity that they didn't create some sort of viewing platform when they were doing up the place. It is such a huge missed opportunity. 

Oh, and because it's in Temple Bar, be wary of the cobblestones you'll have to cross to get there. 
Other than that, great spot and the new bar is lovely. 

The Workman's Club

The Workman's Club
10 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2

The Workman's is the inevitable Friday night destination for a lot of people in Dublin. Sure, the music might be the same every single week and it can become a bit of a sweatbox. But their generous rum and ginger beer is a fiver, it's a staple dancing spot and it's good for a gig every now and again.

What has it got?

Seating: There are a number of tables with moveable chairs and there are some delicious red PVC couches fixed to the wall in the venue space. 

Doors: The doors are wide enough to fit a wheelchair but it can get very busy so the doors into the bar and the venue can be a bit of a bottleneck. 

Ground: The floors are all wooden. 

Stairs: There are no steps into the main door and you have flat access to the bar and music venue. There is a flight of (steep) stairs down to the ladies and gents and some very rickety stairs up the second bar and smoking area. 

Bathrooms: Unfortunately, there is no wheelchair bathroom in the Workman's but The Clarence Hotel next door has a swanky wheelchair bathroom that you can use. 

Spaciousness: This place can get rammed very early on in the night and the mentioned bottlenecks can be a bit of a pain.

Helpfulness of Staff: The bouncers can be very helpful when it comes to getting you through the crowd, especially if you're at a gig. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot a couple of doors down.

Rating: 6/10

Why did it lose points? The lack of a wheelchair bathroom is an issue because you have to go next door to use another establishment's toilet. This is a problem for two reasons: 1) If people are using crutches and can't use stairs, the extra hike to The Clarence next door isn't an advantage and 2) At nighttime, it's not ideal to have to go outside to a different venue to use the bathroom for safety reasons or if the weather is crap, well, that's no fun for anyone. 
At the weekends, every floor is open to customers but if you arrive on a quieter night, the downstairs bar is closed meaning that someone in a wheelchair, or someone that doesn't like rickety stairs, can't go in. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gallaher & Co. Bistro

Gallaher & Co. Bistro
16a D'Olier Street, Dublin 2

In the city centre, it's very difficult to find a restaurant that has all the bells and whistles in terms of accessibility. So it was a very happy surprise when I learned that Gallaher & Co. was not only a good place to drop in for a quick pre-theatre early bird meal but it was also properly wheelchair friendly. Huzzah.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the chairs are moveable. There are tall stools with even taller tables in the centre but there are lower tables and chairs suitable for a wheelchair. 

Doors: You might need a hand with the front door here as there is a slight raise at the doorstep but they fit a wheelchair grand. 

Ground: The ground was tiled and wooden (I think... Let me double check)

Stairs: There was a slope up to the wheelchair bathroom and a flight of stairs down to the ladies and gents. 

Bathrooms: Their wheelchair bathroom is large and has all of the railings in place. 

Spaciousness: There are a couple of tables en route to the wheelchair bathroom so I had to ask people to move their chairs in. Other than that, plenty of room. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff made sure I was at a table that suited me and they helped with the door. Top marks for them. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot on Foster Place beside the Wax Museum and there is on street parking on D'Olier Street too (map here). 

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? None were lost. It has everything you would need for a quick meal. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bad Bobs

Bad Bobs 
East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Last time I was in Bad Bobs, I was months away from my Leaving Cert and Pussycat Dolls' 'Don't Cha' was bloody huge. For a brief period, it was Purty Kitchen where €2 Tuesdays were a big draw for the students and those who liked students. But now, Bob is back in town and he's not a bad lad.

What has it got?

Seating: There is a range of seating opportunities here. Low stools, high stools, bar seat, standard table and chair format. All of the chairs are moveable and you'll find the right fit. 

Doors: The doors are all wide enough for a wheelchair but the door of the wheelchair bathroom is a tad heavy. 

Ground: We have every floor surface in action here. Wooden, tiled, lino. 

Stairs: There are five floors in Bad Bobs and they have a lift that will bring you to each and every one. 

Bathrooms: Their wheelchair bathroom is big and, as I said, the door is a bit heavy. The lift brings you right to the bathroom too. 

Spaciousness: It can get a bit tight to move around here when it fills up but other than that, no issues with space.

Helpfulness of Staff: Before I even got in the front door, the bouncers told me where the lift was and what floor the wheelchair bathroom was on. Very helpful bunch of lads. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot on Wellington Quay (map here).

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? Other than some rafty song choices, there are no complaints to be made about Mr. Bob. 

Mother Dublin

Mother Dublin
Copper Alley, Exchange Street, Dublin 2

Mother is the mother of all club nights for electronic music and that of a pop inclination and some of Dublin's prettiest people can be found in its dark corners. Whether or not you're there because it's part of the rainbow community, it doesn't matter, serious dancing and decent music is the be all and end all.

What has it got?

Seating: Moveable chairs and the like but you'd be a fool to be anywhere other than the dance floor here.

Doors: The doors are all kept open here and they fit a wheelchair properly. 

Ground: The bathroom area is tiled, which could get a bit slippy, and in the at the bar, it's a lino-type surface. 

Stairs: There are stairs in and out but there is wheelchair access through the Arlington Hotel (Temple Bar) which has a lift. You will need a key to operate the lift but staff will be on hand to help out. 

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom here which is big. It felt like it was sort of tucked away so I don't think you'd have a big problem with people using it. 

Spaciousness: Other than bodies, there is plenty of space here. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The bouncers at Mother and the staff in the Arlington Hotel are all very helpful. They guided me in through the hotel and were quick to get the key for the lift whenever I needed it. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot right outside Mother and there are two parking spaces available on Cork Hill (map here).

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? The only reason that Mother lost any points was because it isn't obvious that they have proper wheelchair facilities available. I arrived at the door expecting to be carried down into the basement and it was such a pleasant surprise to find that they had everything. 
One of the DJs came up to me to tell me that I was the first wheelchair user he's seen there and he was delighted. Having wheelchair facilities are hugely important but what use are they if no one knows that they're there? Delighted I made this discovery so I can return again and get that DJ to play me the Cut Copy song he promised me. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Legless on Holidays: Syracuse, Sicily

I went on a family holiday to Syracuse in Sicily last week for 7 seven days. We flew into Catania and we stayed in the four star Mercure Hotel, which I have reviewed below. As a holiday destination, its main attractions are sun (34 degrees most days), sea (not necessarily beaches but there was a grand marina to perv on expensive boats) and food. We spent the majority of the time on the island of Ortigia which has plenty of duomos, piazzas, cathedrals, museums, restaurants and quirky shops located throughout its winding streets.

Expensive boats

For a wheelchair user, Ortigia and Syracuse are difficult to get around. The streets are uphill, have rough pavements and the pathways tend to end abruptly. I couldn't get too far without asking for a heave or a hup to get moving. Almost every shop or restaurant we went into had a step into it but some, luckily, had a moveable ramp so I could go in without assistance.  One very funny and unusual trait the restaurants and cafés had was that if they had a wheelchair bathroom, it could be up four or five steps or in a very tight space. Nonetheless, the staff were always incredibly helpful and if there were steps to climb, they'd be the first to help out.

Ortigia and Syrcause are lovely places to visit for a couple of days - you might find yourself struggling to find activities to fill a week - and if you don't mind its hills, steps and cobbles, then don't rule it out as a holiday destination.


Hotel Mercure
Viale Teracati, 20, 96100, Syracuse

The location of the hotel wasn't ideal but due to the hilly nature of Ortigia and Syracuse, this hotel was one of a few that was able to offer facilities for disabled guests. The decor was very modern and it has its own car park. My room was very big and there were handrails in the bathroom and there was walk-in shower with a seat. There was a phone with 24-hour assistance. There was a lift to all floors but one major fault with its facilities was that there were five steps up to the swimming pool and solarium area. Otherwise, the rooms for disabled guests were perfect for wheelchair users.


Lungomare Alfeo, Syracuse, Sicily
This place was a hit for my dad as he's an avid seafood fan. The views here are spectacular as it's overlooking the sea and all of those expensive yachts. They had a wheelchair bathroom here but it was bizarrely up five steps. Two of the waiters had to lift me up. They have outdoor and indoor seating.

Caffé la Piazza
Piazza Duomo 16, 96100 Syracuse, Sicily
This place is grand for a quick lunch (pasta, ravioli, sandwiches, pizza) but its main attraction is its view of the cathedral and the newly wed couples doing their lap of victory for photographers. They had a wheelchair bathroom and there are two low steps in at the front door. They have outdoor and indoor seating.

Taverna Sveva
Piazza Federico di Svevia, 1, 96100 Syracuse, Sicily
There's a bit of character to this family-run restaurant beside the castle. I had delicious lamb chops here but there's a big range of sea food and pastas here. They have outdoor and indoor seating. They had a ramp in the front door and an incredibly tight wheelchair bathroom. Very little budge room in there so if you're claustrophobic, it's not the place for you.

Osteria da Mariano
Vicola Zuccolá, 9, 96100 Syracuse, Sicily
They boast a selection of rustic food in this restaurant down a crowded side street and their penne pasta with mint, parsley, fennel, pesto and basil was a hearty feed. The street it's on is very narrow so you will have to ask people to move their chairs if you want to get through. There is one step up into the restaurant (there is outdoor seating) and even though it's not a wheelchair bathroom, per se, it is very big and will fit a chair. You will, however, have to ask staff to move a few chairs to get through.

Le Vin de l'Assassin Bistrot
Via Roma, 115, 96100 Syracuse, Sicily
This was hands down the best restaurant we ate in. I had a breast of duck in honey sauce and I will never look at duck in the same way again. Again, it's up a sloped side alley so you will need a hoosh up. They have a wheelchair bathroom too, which is a little tight, and you will have to ask the staff to move a table or two as you make your way in. Absolutely delicious food though.

La Foglia

Trattoria La Foglia
Via Capodica 29, Syracuse
This family-run joint is just so damn quaint and twee. With menus possibly designed by the 10-year-old running about the place and what looks like old school desks, they'd put any Dublin quirky joint to shame. All of their pasta is homemade and it's a very decent portion. There is outdoor seating on a very slanted street but with one step inside, there is more level seating. They don't officially have a wheelchair bathroom but they let me use their staff bathroom which fit my chair perfectly.

Vite & Vitello
Piazza Francesco Corpaci, 1-2 Angolo via Maestranza, 96100 Syracuse, Sicily
This place was a tad expensive but the food was good, not amazing, but good. Their meat and cheese platter definitely hit the spot though. They have a moveable ramp at the front the door, which is easy to use, and a wheelchair bathroom too.


The majority of shops had at least one step into them - those damn hills - but here are two ceramic shops that you must visit.

Circo Fortuna
Via dei Tolomei, 20, 96100, Syracuse, Sicily
Caroline Van Riet designs the cutest pottery - not too different from Le Petit Prince illustrations. You can see her at work in the shop and pick out cups, plates, lamps or whatever you'd like for her to paint. She also runs a B&B, which I'm sure is the nicest place to stay. There was one large step into the shop but she is very helpful and this place is definitely worth a visit.

Fish House Art
Via Cavour, 29-31, 96100, Syracuse, Sicily
Big fish, little fish, fish made out of an old rake. Never in your life would you think a shop made out of ceramic fish would be so interesting. Cod, salmon, sharks all there to hang on your wall. There's even some sea monsters made out of leftover garden tools. They have one giant step into a shop and a ramp to connect the two levels.

Things to do:

Greek Theatre
We spent one afternoon in the ancient grounds of the Greek Theatre. The ground was very rough here but there was paved path through most of the site so that you could see the remains of the amphitheatre and the sacrificial altar.

River boatride

Boat Rides
We took two boat rides; one through the sea caves and one riverside lemon farms. You will see many stands for various boat rides around the island and even though their boats aren't officially adapted for wheelchairs to get on and off, the staff have no problem with some heavy lifting. If you consider yourself a salty sea dog, don't miss out on these trips.

Mount Etna
Other than eating and sunning oneself. there wasn't a lot to do. However, we did visit Mount Etna which was amazing. You could see all of the lava tracks that the explosions have left over the years and you could hear the rumble of the volcano every now and again. It's a long drive but definitely worth it. There are wheelchair bathrooms in a number of the restaurants there. It's a very steep climb and it's not for everyone but it's worth it just to look at.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Bakehouse

The Bakehouse
6 Bachelor's Walk, Dublin 1/CHQ Building, IFSC, Dublin 1

Here's a bold statement: The Bakehouse make the best sandwiches in Dublin. That's all I have on the matter.

What has it got?

Seating: All of the tables - out on the pavement and inside - have moveable chairs

Doors: The doors are wide and not too heavy.

Ground: Inside, the floors are tiled. 

Stairs: In the Bachelor's Walk shop, there is one large step in the front door but with one hoosh from a friend, you should be ok. There's also a bar at the door which is good to hold onto. In the CHQ, it is all flat. 

Bathrooms: In Bachelor's Walk, their wheelchair bathroom is not only large, but it has a mirror and it's not a storage cupboard. Hurrah. Over at the CHQ, the wheelchair bathroom is found in the mall area. 

Spaciousness: It can be a little tight between the tables in the Bachelor's Walk shop when it's packed but if people move their chairs in slightly, you'll be ok. In the CHQ, it's very roomy. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff here are amazing. Very chatty and helpful. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair parking spot right at the door on the Quays. Because I drive, if I park there, I'll be unloading on the road so I normally park on Great Strand Street to avoid any clashes with buses or bikes. There is a car park beside the CHQ that has wheelchair parking and there is also street parking on Commons Street

Rating: 9.5/10

Why did it lose points? The Bakehouse only lost half a point because of the step in at Bachelor's Walk. However, they did their best with this by placing a bar beside it so if you are getting a hand in, you can hold onto it. The CHQ venue is perfect but it is full of suits so stick to Bachelor's Walk if you want to leave the office vibes behind. 

Legless Goes To The Picnic

Electric Picnic
Stradbally, Co. Laois

Can you believe it's been 10 years since we have had more options than just Oxegen and Slane for a music festival? This year's Electric Picnic was everything you could want for in a festival. There was very little rain, zero mud and, of course, the music was delectable. This was my sixth EP and in comparison to other years, I didn't spend a lot of time fussing over the timetable, I just went with the flow and took a leisurely approach to stage hopping.

My musical highlights were:

This woman is the cutest little button and her Biophilia show was manic and extravagant. After she thundered out a massive track, she showed her gratitude by quipping 'Thank you' in her wonderful Icelandic way. It was a joy to watch and I'd like to invite her, and her giant crystal hat, to live with me.

Disclosure's Settle has been my main album of the summer. It has been firmly on repeat since its release so when their live set matched up to my pounding grá for the record, I was delighted. I hope that they're an act we'll see headlining again over the next 10 years.

David Byrne and St. Vincent
Not only was this the greatest set I saw all weekend long but it is the most fantastic set I have seen in a very long time. In 2012, the god that is David Byrne teamed up with St. Vincent for a brass-orientated album, Love This Giant, and the moment the horns kicked into action on the Sunday night, magic was made. St. Vincent rolled out some of her solo songs, including 'Cheerleader', but Byrne stole all of her thunder when he conducted the biggest sing song of the entire weekend with Talking Heads' 'This Must Be The Place', 'Road To Nowhere' and 'Burning Down the House'. He even threw in 2002's 'Lazy' for good measure. I will be talking about this show for years to come.

What has it got?

Seating: The Electric Picnic site is massive but, luckily, they have so many areas where people can rest their weary legs. If there's one thing that the Picnic does well, it's throwing together an assorted range of shit for people to sit on. 

Viewing platform: A lot of the time, the viewing platforms in the smaller tents felt like a creche. Children at a festival is a debate for another day but when I'm restricted to having one friend with me on the platform, it's a bit unfair that the kids can run riot. I avoided the platform at the main stage because it was so far away and my eyesight is useless. 

Ground: There was no mud at all this year which made getting around so easy. However, with an outdoor festival, you have uneven ground pretty much everywhere and if you're not paying attention, you could definitely tip out of your chair. Every now and again, you'd come across a tiled pathway but these would end abruptly or lead to the staff area. They should place more of these about the festival site just to make life a little easier for everyone. 

Campsite: There was a disabled campsite available at EP but it was the furthest campsite away from the main area. I camped in Oscar Wilde, which was just beside the Salty Dog stage. I camped on the very edge of the site so other tents weren't in my way and it worked out perfectly. If I had used the disabled campsite, I would had a huge trek ahead of me every day which is incredibly inconvenient especially with the rough ground. 

Bathrooms: At most toilet areas, there was a large portaloo for wheelchair users. The campsites didn't have this luxury. To find a clean portaloo at a festival is like a gift from the gods but when it came to hygiene levels in the wheelchair portaloos, things could have been better as many wheelchair users don't have the privilege of hovering. If they could increase the amount of wheelchair portaloos about the place, it would be much better.

Spaciousness: I didn't have any problems with space and didn't feel overcrowded at any point (other than the viewing platforms that doubled as childcare).

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff at EP is made up of paid staff and volunteers so the helpfulness depended on who you came across first. A number of the security guards went above and beyond to help out, especially around the main stage area.

Parking: I parked in the disabled parking area which was in the disabled camping area. It was monitored closely so it never got too packed. 

Rating: 7/10

Why did it lose points? Electric Picnic is Ireland's greatest music festival and because it is so large, it's hard to cater for everybody. They have all of the facilities for disabled guests in place but they feel a little bit like token gestures. The disabled camp site is so far away and the path to and from it is rough. The viewing platforms are far away from the stage and you are restricted to bringing one friend up with you. There aren't enough wheelchair portaloos about and more pathways could have been placed to combat the uneven ground. 
If I had used all of the facilities available, I would not have had as much fun as I did. I came up with my own system for camping and for watching bands. If EP focused a bit more on their facilities for disabled users, they could come up something that would enhance the festival experience for whoever used them. 
That being said, my voice is gone and I had a fantastic time but I wish that the organisers would be as creative and inventive with their accessibility as they are with everything else on offer. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Legless At Festivals

Front row scrounger. 

Festivals are tricky when it comes to wheelin' or crutchin' around so these are my tips for making it as easy as possible.

  • The disabled camping areas tend to be the furthest camp site away from the venue which is bizarre and completely inconvenient if you're on crutches or in a rush to get to the main stage. I usually camp in whatever site is nearest to the main arena. I place my tent on the very edge of the camping area with my door facing out so that pegs and lines and bodies don't block my way in and out.

  • When it rains, the mud starts to pop up like Emeli Sandé at an awards show (i.e. everywhere). I have a very run-of-the-mill wheelchair so this is a big hassle for me. I have seen a few chairs that attach a 'third wheel' to their chair which makes mud and uneven ground much easier to go through. It's called the Go Free Wheel and even though it's a bit late to get one for the Picnic, if you save up your sheckles, your festival summer of 2014 could be easy sailing.

  • If you're heading on crutches, the main problem with festivals is that there's not enough seating areas. It's a pain in the ass to get up off the ground when you're using sticks so keep a lookout for potential perching spots and own them like you're the Queen of Sheba.

  • I'm not a fan of the wheelchair platform areas because you're kept far away from the crowd, the view isn't amazing and you feel removed from the festival. My main trick is to get to the very front of the barrier and watch from there. The key thing with this is to be sound to those around you and to the security guards and you shouldn't have any problems. Of course, this is probably against security regulations but you have paid for a ticket and you shouldn't have to be booted to the very back to watch everyone else have fun.

  • Wheelchairs are great hiding spots for booze. I've given myself away here but it's all for the greater good.

  • The ground is rough. Wheelchair users know how to navigate the ground because we're a metre away from it and can see when a dip or rock is in the way. Those pushing may not see what's ahead and you could end up flying out of the chair. So if you're wheeling yourself and getting a heave here and there, keep that in mind and hold on.

  • If you're on crutches, avail of the piggy back. There's probably grounds for a romcom in someone giving you a piggy back at a festival because you broke your foot. If you get married, include me in the speech.

  • Even though there are wheelchair toilets, there aren't very many. If there is a queue at the wheelchair portaloo, ask if you can skip it. There are hundreds and hundreds of regular-sized poratloos and very few wheelchair-friendly ones. Common decency and common sense should hopefully mean that you won't have to queue for too long at a wheelchair portaloo.

  • A lot of the First Aid tents have a wheelchair portaloo behind them. Again, this probably isn't meant to be public knowledge but if you're miles from one (like in the regular campsites), this could be your best bet. 

Wheel responsibly and don't see a good weekend off-roaded. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Legless In The Country: Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Ballyvaughan is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest parts of Ireland. I spent most of my summers there as a child and I still try to go as often as possible. Between rolling mountains, landscapes that are a shade of lavender due to all the rock (so much rock), very good food, live music and tourist attractions like the Ailwee Caves and the Dolmen, there is a lot on offer here.

As a small village, it fares very well in terms of accessibility. I have done up a handful of reviews of restaurants, bars, cafés and tourist attractions and the majority of them have made a huge effort to cater to everyone. Unfortunately, one thing I did notice that not a lot of the accommodation is wheelchair friendly and this is a big problem. It's an issue because while these places have scored highly, if you have nowhere to stay, then what's the point?

The main hotel, Hylands, has no lift and all of their rooms are upstairs. The newly built Burren Coast Hotel had all of the facilities but it has been on sale for the last couple of years. Ballyvaughan is the quintessential tourist spot in Ireland and for it to thrive properly, it needs more people to visit. There is so much on offer here and if there was a steady flow of tourists, even Irish tourists, the hotels, pubs and tourist attractions could adapt to cater for everyone.

However, I have been informed that Meadowfield B&B, Drumcreehy House, Burren View B&B and O'Connor's in Doolin can cater for guests with disabilities. I have linked all of their sites so ring and check before you book anything.

In Ballyvaughan, the footpaths are in semi-decent condition. There are a few broken pavements down at the harbour, there are very few dips in the kerb for a wheelchair to get up from the road. There isn't a lot of traffic and you can walk from one end of the village to the other in less than 15 minutes. If you are staying outside of the village, you will definitely need a car as the roads are narrow and winding.

I have reviewed a selection of things that are going on in the 'vaughan and the areas surrounding. If you can find a way down there, make it your duty to visit.

Reviewed (so far):

An Fulacht Fia
Ballyvaughan Farmers Market
Ballyvaughan Tea Rooms
The Burren Perfumery
Caherconnell Stone Fort
Greenes Bar
Linn Fashion and Gifts
Logues Lodge
Poulnabrone Dolmen
Village Stores

Legless In The Country: The Burren Perfumery, Carron, Co. Clare

The Burren Perfumery
Carron, Co. Clare

Tucked away in Carron, you'll find The Burren Perfumery where they make all of their own soaps, shampoos, lip balms, face cleaners and tea from their own herb garden. I adore their rose facial serum and their lavender and marigold facial cleanser. You'll get swept away with the amount of things that you don't necessarily need but you'll definitely want.

What has it got?

Seating: In their tea rooms, they have moveable chairs at their tables. There is outdoor and indoor seating and most of it is easy to get to. Around the perfumery, there are stone walls that double up as a place to rest. 

Doors: The doors are wide enough to fit a wheelchair. 

Ground: Outside, there are limestone slabs and gravel. It's a little uneven but manageable. Inside, I think it's more limestone flooring but it is all flat. Sadly, their herb garden is a little tricky to get around because the paths are uneven and rough. I made it halfway through and had to give up. 

Stairs: If there are any steps here, there is a sloped surface right beside it. 

Bathrooms: There is no wheelchair bathroom here but I did fit my wheelchair into one of the larger cubicles. Not all wheelchairs will fit in here. If there was a foot of extra space, it would have been easier. 

Spaciousness: Other than the bathroom and the herb garden, there is enough room in the perfumery and the tea rooms.

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff are absolutely lovely here. They will help you pick out what's right for you and if you need any assistance, it should be no problem. 

Parking: There is no specific wheelchair spot and none of the parking spots are lined out so if you pick your spot carefully, you will have enough room to get a chair in and out. 

Rating: 7/10

Why did it lose points? Sadly, the Perfumery lost three points because their bigger bathroom would not be able to accommodate most wheelchairs and it's a pity to miss out on the herb garden because it is beautiful. Please don't let these two things put you off your visit because the it's a lovely place to visit and you'll leave smelling like a garden or roses. 

Legless In The Country: Linn Fashion and Gifts, Visitor Centre, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Linn Fashion and Gifts
Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare (behind Spar)

As well as a tourist information point, Linn Fashion and Gifts has a surprisingly varied collection of, you've guessed it, fashion and gifts.

What has it got?

Seating: No seats in here but if you want a bit of a lean or a perch, there's a grand wall out front.

Doors: The door is normally kept open here but it fits a wheelchair.

Ground: A fine display of wooden panelling going on in here. 

Stairs: There are a couple of steps in but there is a ramp beside it too. 

Bathrooms: There is no bathroom here but it's just across the way from Spar's bathrooms which are big enough for a wheelchair. 

Spaciousness: It can be a little bit tight between all of the display units but with some parallel parking and three-point turning, you will get to see everything. 

Helpfulness of Staff: Geraldine Linnane runs this shop and she is the woman to talk to for tourist information. She is very helpful and if you need anything else, simply ask. 

Parking: There is wheelchair parking available at the entrance of the shop. 

Rating: 9.5

Why did it lose points? Linn Fashion and Gifts lost half a point because it can be a little bit tight between all the display units and shelves. All in all, it has everything else in place in terms of access. 

Legless In The Country: Village Stores (Spar), Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Village Stores (Spar)
Main Street, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Other than the petrol station, this is Ballyvaughan's only food shop. It closes at 8.30 most evenings so don't forget to pick up your báinne. This Spar is a bit of a social spot and you might get to spot the local celebrity here, the fat cat (above).

What has it got?

Seating: There are picnic tables outside Spar and this is where the fat cat can normally be found. 

Doors: The doors are wide and easy to open. 

Ground: The ground is tiled in here so take heed when it's wet. 

Stairs: Not a step nor stair to be seen. 

Bathrooms: They actually have a large bathroom around the back of this Spar which is nifty for everyone really. 

Spaciousness: There is plenty of room between the aisles but some of the shelves are high. 

Helpfulness of Staff: Staff are great here and if you need a hand, don't be too shy to ask. 

Parking: There is a wheelchair spot behind this Spar and there are plenty of other parking spots beside it.  

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? No points were lost. It's a very easy shop to navigate. 

Legless In The Country: Caherconnell Stone Fort, Carron, Co. Clare

Caherconnell Stone Fort
Carron, Co. Clare

Caherconnell Fort is an ancient ring fort that is found on the farmland of the Davoren family. Once you've visited the fort, you can check out the sheepdog trials demonstrated by John and his furry pals, Sally and Lee, or try some Caherconnell Cheese in their café. The fort itself is very impressive as its shape is fully preserved and there are archaeologists working on the site for most of the year and just last week, they discovered the remains of a woman and two children which are believed to be from the 10th or 11th Century.

What has it got?

Seating: The tables all have moveable chairs here. 

Doors: The front doors are kept open and all the rest of the doors are very easy to manage. 

Ground: Inside the centre, the floors are a mix of limestone and wooden panelling. Outside, the path is a mix of light and heavy gravel. Out to the fort, the ground is rough but because it is a preserved site, very little can be done about it. However, it is possible to get a wheelchair up to the fort. All you need is a bit of a heave here and there. Out to the sheepdog viewing area, it is up a slight hill so a push will be needed but once you get there, it is a flat and sheltered area. 

Stairs: There are no stairs but keep in mind that the ground will be uneven and rocky around the fort. 

Bathrooms: They have a large wheelchair bathroom in the café area which is beside the ladies and gents. 

Spaciousness: There is plenty of room to maneuver here. 

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff are very helpful and if you ring in advance, they can help you plan your visit. 

Parking: There is a car park at the bottom of the hill which has a graveled path leading up to the centre. But if you ring in advance and say that you need easier access to the building, you can park beside the centre which has a tarred car park with a flat surface. 

Rating: 9/10

Why did it lose points? The fort is a preserved site so it is difficult to get everything perfect in terms of access but what they have in place is very good for an outdoor and rocky site. The staff are very helpful here and will do their best so you can enjoy your time at the fort. Make sure you don't miss the sheepdog trials.