New playground gets thumbs up from Cathal

The new disability-friendly playground at Cork's Fitzgerald's Park. It includes a castle and sunken pirate ship structures, slides, swings, a climbing pyramid, basket swings and more. Picture: Larry Cummins

The first child to use one of Ireland’s most spectacular all-inclusive playgrounds has given it the thumbs up.

And Cathal O’Neill had so much fun in Cork’s Fitzgerald’s Park’s new €600,000 disability-friendly playground, he’s planning to go again today.

Wheelchair user Cathal, 11, from Cathedral Rd, who attends the School of the Divine Child, Ballintemple, was up early and first through the park gates at 8.30am to test the playground. His mum, Pauline, said he loved it.

“Before, he would go to a playground and just watch the other kids playing,” she said. “But because this playground has wheelchair access to most of its equipment, he was able to use most of them. He was able to drive up a ramp to the top of the fort slide. It was his first time at the top of a slide. He was able to take control of the boat, and he had a spin on the roundabout. It was just so great for him to be involved with the other kids, and to be able to go to the places they go, and interact with other kids.”

New playground gets thumbs up from Cathal

Cathal O’Neill, Cathedral Rd, Cork, trying out the new playground at

Fitzgerald’s Park.

The playground was designed following consultation with stakeholders, including St Paul’s School, Montenotte, and Padre Pio School in Churchfield.

It includes a castle and sunken pirate ship structures, three slides, seven swings, a climbing pyramid, basket swings, hedgehog and ladybird springers, horizontal bars, a 2.6m high climbing wall, seesaws, balance poles, a wheelchair roundabout, and picnic tables and chairs.

It has sensory-rich structures designed to encourage play for all children, but especially those with developmental disabilities. It will give children of all abilities the opportunity to learn and play together.

It is hoped the facility will become a national model in best practice in the provision of play spaces for children of all abilities.

The playground, which has been developed on the site of the park’s old playground, opened to the public yesterday, several weeks ahead of schedule.

Hi-tech security systems have been installed to monitor and protect what is one of the most expensive playgrounds ever built in the city. The project was funded by Cork City Council and Bon Secours Hospital through its Community Initiative Programme, given its historic links to the park which date back to the last century when it occupied the present-day museum for five years.

The playground will open in line with the park’s summer hours — 8.30am to 9pm seven days a week.


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