Tuesday, May 12, 2015

We've Moved!

We've moved to a shinier, brand new home at LeglessInDublin.com

Oooh! We will be writing up features, reviews and more but we will also be inviting you to contribute to the site once we're up and moving!

We're still on Facebook and we're still on Twitter but all brand new content will be found on LeglessInDublin.com. Come over and say hello. 

Friday, January 23, 2015


This is an email that I sent to 30 of my friends in 2011 when I realised that walking was soon going to be out of the question for me. I was 23 years of age, living at home, interning for free and bloody miserable. I spent about a week putting this email together, hoping it would get my message across without having to explain myself to every single person I knew.

The last sentence reads: "It's not easy and it won't be get any easier in the future."

Luckily, things are so much easier now. I had this very dark cloud above my head thinking about using a wheelchair because I felt like I might be shunned. I was so, so wrong. Some of those 30 friends got it and they were/are just the greatest people ever. However, some didn't get it at all. That was the only tough part of the email.

So much has changed since 2011 and I think my head is now in a clearer place than it ever has been. Whatever limitations I expected to see in 2011 have been erased. If there are limitations, you fucking challenge them or call whoever is responsible for them out. So many things change in your life from here to there and looking back on this email, perspective is definitely the most important thing to adjust.


In the last year or two, I have noticed that it's been getting more and more difficult for me to do the majority of the things that I used to be able to do. My legs have gotten weaker and I get tired more easily.

I don't know if it's a physical ailment or a mental block, but I'm just tired and I am done putting myself through things that exhaust me. I feel like I no longer want to prove myself.

I have mentioned to a few of you about this but I don't know if you realise how serious it is. We had a chair lift put into my house about a month ago which was the cause of many tears and the final admission that this is how my life is going to be.

With my decreased mobility and ability to do things, I need to rely on people more. I even find it difficult to get change from my wallet when I'm buying something in a shop without breaking a sweat.

For me, when I make plans with people, I need to prepare myself mentally and physically before I go through with it. The physical thing is obvious because I can't really walk anymore. Obviously,  I'm not a fan of going places with  loads of stairs or that have slippy floors (I have a sharp eye for slippy floors). I automatically need to veto a lot of places.

The mental preparation is a different thing. Over the years, I have received a large  variety of abuse from passer-bys whenever I'm anywhere but my own home. From some jock calling me a cripple and high-fiving his mates afterwards for making a thick joke to people actually slowing down their car so that they can shout something at me. And it's never a compliment.

One night, a guy I was kissing stopped kissing me when he found out that my shark attack story was a joke, muttered something about "not scoring retards" and walked off.

Someone joked recently that I was too sensitive, but when I have to deal with people being so insensitive to me on a regular basis,  I have no other option. I have put on a strong enough front for so long that I am sick of dealing with insensitivity and ignorance from strangers and people that I know.

I actively decided a while ago that I will no longer make plans with people that bail on a regular basis. I put in a lot of effort when I do things and when it only takes you a quick text to cancel, it's kind of hard not to take it personally, especially when it happens so often.

I get that people are busy. We all have our own lives and yeah, we do need to rearrange things but I just want a bit more notice than that day because as I said, I need to prepare myself before I go anywhere.

I know that people have jobs, emigration, boyfriends, girlfriends, final exams, Christmas exams, other friends, families, theses, masters, hangovers, no money - I know people are busy and I'm not asking you to spend more time with me, I'm just asking you to not be so flaky when we do actually have plans.

I don't want to guilt any of you into thinking that I don't want you to enjoy these things - please, do. You're only young once.

As all these doors open for you, so many are currently being closed in my face. With my disability, the opportunities to be young and carefree are very limited.  I've sadly learnt that I can't be carefree anymore. I can now only put myself in situations that I know I can deal with. These limitations will make my lifestyle very boring and I, in no way, want to drag you down with that.

I've never wanted to be treated differently but it has come to the stage where I do need to be treated differently. I absolutely do not want sympathy but I just want to feel like you've considered what I have gone through and will be going through for the rest of my life.

I can't do stairs, I can't walk long distances, I will need to get taxis (another reason why I try to limit going out and drinking - I will need taxis to drop me to the door and this can get expensive), I don't dance - don't make me dance, I get tired easily so I can't do loads of things in one day or even in one week.

I don't know what the response will be like to this. Hopefully it's not anger and I don't want anyone to think that it's a direct personal attack on anyone. Basically, my life has changed and I'm not happy about it. It's not easy and it won't be getting any easier in the future.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Under My Bed 2015

I'm delighted to announce that I will be taking part in this year's Under My Bed. On Thursday, March 12th, I'll be performing a short piece that I wrote.

Under My Bed raises much needed funds for Barnardos Ireland and it takes place over 3 nights (12-14 March) in Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre.

You can hear stories from people like 2FM's Rick O'Shea and Ruth Scott, Fair City's Ciara O'Callaghan,  former Mountjoy Prison governor John Lonergan and one of my big idols, comedienne and all round incredible woman Tara Flynn.

If you'd like to come along and hear a few tales (tall and otherwise) for a really incredible cause, please do.

Tickets are available to buy here.

Here's more information on the night:

Every child has a space under their bed which can be a stash for their secret things, a hiding space for their favourite loot or where they find long-lost toys. For other children, it can be where they hide from whoever they are afraid of. It is a very personal mental and physical space and sanctuary for children.
Under my Bed invited well-known people from all walks of life to tell us what was under their bed as a child.
In January 2014, over 3 nights in one special theatre, these stories were told. The event raised €13,155.70 in total, and every cent raised went directly to funding the invaluable work of Barnardos, Ireland's leading children's charity. Each year they work with children and families throughout Ireland. 

The best thing about the project was the good vibes that surrounded it - the writers, actors, audience, crew, producers - were all so positive about their participation and the end result. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to create this good will again in 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Let The Measurements Of Your Chair Measure You

Not a single day goes by where I don't realise that I am in a wheelchair. This is stating the bleedin' obvious. Hopping out of bed every morning and into the chair. Hoping my dog isn't sitting underneath the wheel when I move. Loading the chair into the passenger seat before I drive my car. These are the everyday things that I do with my chair that are a reminder but not an examination.

I am in the process of being measured and fitted for a new wheelchair and it is a draining experience. What tyres would you like? What brakes would you like? What angle do you want your spine tilted at? What colour do you want? Do you want mud guards? Do you want arm rests? How high do you want your knees raised? How long do you want the seat to be?

I am being measured in centimetres and inches. I am thoroughly being examined.

Every other day, I can brush off the fact that I am in a wheelchair but when you have to describe to the millimetre what you need, you're being asked to look at things that you normally try to brush past and forget. Or, if you don't know what you want, you are being told what other people have and it's suggested that you go with it.

I made the grave error in asking for an arm rest that's strong enough for me to sit on at concerts. Being at crotch level means that I need an extra bump to see the stage so this request makes sense to me. "You're not meant to be sitting on arm rests. They're not strong enough." Oh, Lord! If they saw me swinging out of the arm rests during Kelis' set at Electric Picnic this year or even sitting on them so I can reach the wine glasses on the top shelf in my kitchen, then they would know that they're doing the job.

The initial design of a wheelchair is never my actual intention. I have said so many times that there is no blueprint for disability. I am in no way delicate. I fling myself about. I climb, I roll and I tumble and I need a chair that can do all of that with me.

Getting fitted for a wheelchair is like being fitted for a permanent office chair. It's in a fixed position so what you order is what you will be sitting in for the majority of the day. In work. In the pub. Walking down the street. Going to your friend's house. Stumbling home at 6am. Your permanent office chair is there and you want it to be perfect. You don't want to feel restricted by your chair and in my case, when the chair is lying flat on its back on a beach and me roaring laughing, you don't want your chair to prevent whatever unplanned rolls and tumbles that lie in your future.

Imagine being presented to a plastic surgeon and being told the options of what you could change about your body. Initially, you don't think that you have any body issues but when the list goes on and on...well, you definitely don't feel like a Kardashian by the end of it.

Unfortunately, so many people look in the mirror and do not like what they see. Sadly, today is one of those days where I have to stare at my reflection and examine every square inch of me and the chair. It's the grand admittance of having a chair. It's not just me anymore. I come with spokes, wheels and - rules be damned - soon I'll come with arm rests strong enough to sit me and whoever is sitting on my knee.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

(Online) Dating With A Disability

Just under an hour ago, I was on Spin 103.8's Spin Talk to discuss this email with presenters Lauren Kelly and Gordon Hayden:

A couple of weeks ago I started chatting to a gorgeous guy on Tinder, conversation flowed really easily and turns out we’ve got lots in common.
Eventually I plucked up courage  to ask him out on a date, but before we were  to meet he told me he had something important to tell me and wasn’t sure how I’d take it. I immediately thought he might be married or had kids..but when he told me that he was in a wheelchair,  I was really shocked and if I’m honest my heart sank.
I don’t know anyone who’s disabled and just kinda freaked out about it, but decided to give it a go. We met for a coffee and I was deliberately late because all I could think of was how he’d get in the door, what if the tables were too high?  I was so self conscious the entire time but he was so cool and easy to talk to.
He’s asked about meeting again but as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t think I can deal with it. I always thought I was a very open minded person but maybe I’m not I hate myself for being so shallow.  Maybe I’ll get over it. Should I give this guy another chance?  Thanks.

They had given me a couple of hours to think over what I was going to say and, boy, did I.

I'm in the middle of writing a piece about Tinder and dating* that has nothing to do with wheelchairs or disability so I am full of ideas and, it turns out, rage.

On air, I said something along the lines of this:

You’re asking if you should give him another chance. Yes, you should but should he? Absolutely not.  
As you said, he is gorgeous, easy to talk to and cool but all you could focus on was the wheelchair. You are so quick to deny yourself this great guy all because of the chair.
Tinder dates are weird and everybody has some anxiety going on one but you went through with it - so well done. You worried about the right things - will he fit in the door and are the tables too high. You thought about things that you’ve never thought about before and that’s brilliant. If you need other accessible dating venues, well, read my blog Legless in Dublin. 
Tinder is a massive platform for shallow and superficial behaviour. We all do it. Sure I swipe left in anyone comes up in an Abercrombie t-shirt. We are putting our appearances and basic level of interests up for judgement. However, if you met this guy at a party or through a friend, you may have overlooked his wheelchair or I might even overlook an Abercrombie t-shirt if he ended up being really, really sound. Tinder removes the benefit-of-the-doubt and we go for surface judgements too quickly.  
People that don’t go out dates with people because of a wheelchair or a disability or missing out on many things. They’re missing out on meeting really nice people or really horrible people. This guy could be the greatest or he could be an absolute womanizer but you will never know. 

I'm often asked about dating with a disability and I feel as if I have to provide a spreadsheet of all the men I have hooked up with and why it went wrong. I am single and I know it's not because I'm in a wheelchair. I'm single mostly because I'm a bit of a dickhead and I have a low tolerance for idiots. That's the bottom line on that matter.

The tone that is normally given in these interview situations is that the non-disabled person is exploring new territory. No, you're not. People with disabilities can be sluts too! We're just like you!

I have to give credit where credit it due and the presenters didn't pander to any stereotypes or condescending opinions towards people with disabilities. They spoke honestly and respectfully. Thank you. Not many people in the media can do this.

I was surprised by the positive reaction from the texters too. A lot of people thought this girl should cop on and they mirrored my thoughts that this guy could probably do better. One texter did say this though:

"It takes a very special person to do that [date someone in a wheelchair] and I couldn't do that". 


When it comes to dating,  no one should ever have to prove to someone that you are worthy of their time.  But for people with physical disabilities, these attitudes are great ways to cut the assholes loose at a rapid pace.

If you come across someone on Tinder or in real life that you sort of fancy but they have a disability, just go for it. There is nothing difficult about it other than choosing an accessible date venue and, luckily, you have my blog to help you out with that.

*Editors, this piece is a hoot. You should commission me for it. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 108

The 108
108 Rathgar Road, Dublin 6

The 108 recently changed owners and it is now in the very capable hands of Galway Bay Brewery who also look after The Black Sheep and Against The Grain. They're serving up the regular blend of craft beers and hearty pub grub but with so many pubs and restaurants in one corner and Blackbird in Rathmines, it has a bit of competition. Luckily, they have the lovely Rathgar locals to lure into their lair and with their lunchtime menu, they should have a steady crowd in through the doors.

What has it got?

Seating:  They have a mix of high stools, low stools, high tables and low tables. The low tables are perfect for a wheelchair but you may have to bagsy a spot early. None of the stools have arms but there is an armed bench, ready for attack.

Doors: Their front doors are double doors. They're a little bit heavy but they fit a wheelchair.

Ground:  Wooden floors.

Stairs: 'tis all flat, like the gorgeous plains of Kildare.

Bathrooms: They have a wheelchair bathroom! Rejoice! It's pretty big and has all of the correct bars and handles.

Spaciousness: It is a little bit tight to move through all of the tables so it will be a heave when the crowds are in.

Helpfulness of Staff: The staff seem sound

Parking: There is plenty on onstreet parking in the area and Colman's across the road has a car park. There is a wheelchair parking spot beside Christ Church Rathgar.

Rating: 10/10

Why did it lose points? It didn't! In terms of access, you should have an easy night in The 108. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Story of Legless: Let Me Introduce You To Priscilla, My Fake Leg

Louise Bruton poses for Ruthless Imagery Photography wearing a designer prosthetic leg by Sophie de Oliveira Barata’s Alternative Limb Project. Louise also wears creations by young Irish designer, Sophie Wallace with make up by Lorcan Devaney of Lorcansface. ** Styling by Sophie Wallace // https://sophie-wallace.squarespace.com/ ** Make Up by Lorcan Devaney // http://lorcansface.tumblr.com/ ** with special thanks to MART Rathmines //

The story of my prosthetic leg was recently published in the Irish Times. The wonderful Sophie de Oliveira Barata from the Alternative Limb Project designed my leg.

You can read the piece here. 

So far, Priscilla has been to Electric Picnic, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and New York. She loves a good time so she does.