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.