Tributes paid to fearless champion of the disabled

LORD Thady Dunraven, whose funeral takes place in Adare, Co Limerick tomorrow, was a man who worked to make this country totally accessible to people with disabilities, the Irish Wheelchair Association said in one of many tributes.

The monthly meeting of Limerick County Council adjourned for 15 minutes as a mark of respect.

Born Thady Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, the 7th Earl of Dunraven died at his home at Kilgobbin House, Adare last Friday at the age of 71.

Sticken with polio when 15, Lord Dunraven was a fearless champion of the disabled.

He spent much time studying advances in other countries on facilities provided for people confined to wheelchairs and used this information in many submissions to government.

The Irish Wheelchair Association, of which he was president from 1971 to 1991, said Lord Dunraven could articulate the needs of the disabled and push for a response at government level.

Jimmy Byrne, acting chief executive of the association, said: “He was a tower of strength to so many people. When he became president of the association 40 years ago people with disability were not acknowledged at all.

“Their problems were their own problems, nobody else seemed to bother about them.

“When Lord Dunraven came on board he was very much aware of that, and would be the first to admit himself that he was fairly privileged in that he could afford to get whathe needed with regard to special equipment or facilities.

“But this did not stop him always looking for all the same conditions for people in wheelchairs. He strove all the time to see that people in wheelchairs would get everywhere in Ireland and have the same facilities.

“Anything that would improve the quality of life for a person with disability, his motto was that they should have it.”

Born in 1939, Lord Dunraven was the son of Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin, sixth Earl of Dunraven and Nancy Yuille. In 1969 he married Geraldine McAleer and they had one daughter Anna. Lord Dunraven sold the ancestral home, Adare Manor and its 840 acres about 30 years ago to US businessman, Tom Kane and his wife Judy, who turned it into a five-star hotel resort.

The family also owned the Dunraven Arms Hotel which they sold to hotelier Brian Murphy.

Mr Murphy recalled coming to Adare to manage the hotel in 1977. He said: “You could not meet a nice, kinder, more generous man. He had time for everybody. It is a very sad time now in the village.”

Despite being confined to a wheelchair since his teens, Mr Murphy said Lord Dunraven was always determined to get on with his life.

Cllr Rose Brennan, (FG) who lives in Adare, said: “Lord Dunraven left an impression on all who knew him. He lived a remarkable life.”

Limerick county manager, Ned Gleeson, said Lord Dunraven had a long association with public life in Co Limerick and worked with the council to develop many public facilities in the heritage village of Adare.

Cllr Patrick Fitzgerald pointed out one of Lord Dunraven’s forebears was a member of Limerick County Council.

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