Blind US campaigner hails Clock Gate tower tour

A blind disability rights campaigner has endorsed an east Cork heritage attraction as “the most recommendable museum for visually impaired people” he ever visited.

Glynn Langston, from Louisiana in the US, made his observation after a volunteer tour guide at Youghal’s Clock Gate tower made an exceptional effort to provide him with an authentic tour of the 18th-century monument. Dorothy Heaphy built a Lego replica of Youghal as a 16th century walled port to compensate for the visual map that commences the tours.

She also circled a cardboard juice bottle with elastic bands, using Lego for windows, to indicate the tower’s four floors, before adding an eggshell for the dome.

Enabled to perceive the tower’s street location and design, the American visitor was “taken totally by surprise, but it worked perfectly”, he said.

Dorothy said the improvised models “will now remain in situ for further blind visitors”.

Houston-born Glynn, aged 68, was blind at birth and is globally renowned for his voluntary public speaking, on disability awareness a in schools, churches, and community groups.

Living in Cork in the 1970s and ’80s, he was the voice for the ‘wireless for the blind’ campaign run by the National Council for the Blind.

Parents of two Cork-born children, he and wife Ann have Irish citizenship. They spend five months annually in Youghal, working on their US-based Bible-producing business — including Braille versions — via the internet.

The campaigner also compiles articles and radio interviews for international audiences and is a keen musician and singer.

Generally, he finds museums “not generally benign towards blind people”, but Glynn said the revamped Youghal tower “was unique, intimate, and the best museum experience I’ve had anywhere”.

The building cannot easily accommodate wheelchair access and has no lifts, but Glynn said: “I strongly recommend it to visually impaired agencies.”

Visitors must negotiate steps on a steep, preserved, passageway, but within the tower its history and that of the town is guide-spoken throughout and enhanced by special effects.

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