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Legionnaires' disease left guest at five-star hotel fighting for life

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Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

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Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Pic: Collins Courts

A five-star hotel and a water treatment company have apologised to a woman who contracted Legionnaires' disease after using spa facilities.

The apology was read out on behalf of the Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry, and NCH Ireland, trading as Chem Aqua, to Mary Kelleher who caught the disease after staying in the Muckross Park as a special treat to celebrate her silver wedding anniversary.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was yesterday told the case had been settled.

Eoin Clifford SC for the defendants, in a statement to the High Court, apologised to Ms Kelleher and her family "for the very serious injuries she suffered following her contraction of Legionnaires' disease at the Muckross Park Hotel in August 2015".

It said: "We wish to assure Ms Kelleher as the owners of the hotel, we have made significant investment in the facilities and a best practice legionella prevention programme since we purchased the hotel in 2015.

"The hotel has implemented substantial changes to ensure that there is no reoccurrence of this event."

The statement added: "We do not underestimate the profound distress and impact that this had and continues to have on her life."

The details of the settlement are confidential.

Outside court, Ms Kelleher said she was lucky to be alive but she would have to "live with the consequences of contracting Legionnaires' disease for the rest of my life".

In a statement read by her solicitor, Amy Connolly, she said little did she know when she went for a break at the hotel that "it would almost claim my life".

Ms Kelleher, of Waterfall, Co Cork said she contracted the disease in the hotel and spent three weeks in an induced coma "critically ill and fighting for my life".

She added: "I hope that by highlighting this issue the hospitality industry will sit up and take note that Legionnaires' disease is a very real risk to all customers."

Spa operators needed "to be alert to the dangers lurking in their water systems" and she hoped her story would raise people's awareness about the disease.

"People who go to a spa in Ireland should expect to leave it as healthy as when they entered," she said.

Liability had been admitted in the case earlier this week and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Irish Independent