Summer is finally here and the beaches of Wexford are once more attracting visitors from far and wide, day trippers and tourists eager to experience the many coastal delights the county has to offer. Those who choose Rosslare Strand as their beach of choice this summer will find not one, but two, upgrades designed to make life easier for those who wish to sample both sea and sand.
The first of these upgrades will not only make life easier for one demographic, it will allow them to experience something which hasn’t been possible for many years.
Cathaoirleach of the Rosslare Municipal District (RMD) Councillor Lisa McDonald launched these new amenities and she explained the difference they will make to the lives of those coming to Rosslare Strand.
“Today is about accessibility and inclusiveness,” said Cllr McDonald. “We are here to launch the Wexford Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) lead initiative of mobility beach mats funded by the Community Development Section of Wexford County Council (WCC). We are also here to open the newly refurbished steps up the hill in Mauritiustown funded by the RMD which will also hopefully increase the usage at that part of our beautiful beach here in Rosslare.”
And Cllr McDonald revealed that it was a phone call from a local activist which set in motion the first of those initiatives.
“Last autumn Dr Viv Rath contacted me and highlighted a simple measure that could help improve access issues to our beaches for everyone, a beach mat,” she said. “Many of our beaches here in Wexford have the beach wheelchairs available to them which are placed at locations by WCC. However, there can be difficulties; the beach wheelchairs could be booked up, they might not always be available. They also have to be planned, rather than spontaneous.
"Viv identified an opportunity to further assist beach use for those with mobility issues in the form of beach mats. We discussed this idea at an LCDC meeting and it was decided that the sunniest area in the southeast, Rosslare, would be the ideal location for a pilot project. And as chair of the RMD, I am very proud to launch this mat not only in my district but also on the beach where I spent my summers as a child.
"This is a key piece of equipment that may assist in supporting individuals in accessing the beach; something stable and non-slip, which a lot of us take for granted. Beaches can present challenges, particularly if you have a disability. But we must not deny a section of our community the health benefits, the wellbeing and recreational joy of visiting the beach.”
The beach mat at Rosslare Strand is the first to be installed in Leinster outside of the Greater Dublin area and it is joined by a new set of steps further along the coastline at Mauritustown. Cllr McDonald had been campaigning for new steps to be installed at an access point which had begun to fall into disrepair since last year and, following the completion of the works, she praised Gerry Forde from WCC’s Environment Department for his efforts in ensuring the works were carried out in time for the summer.
Earlier, Cllr McDonald had extended further thanks to Caroline Horan, Accessibility Officer Claude Clancy, Dymphna O’Connor and Ger Mackey for driving these projects to fruition. District Manager Nóirín Cummins also thanked Michael Brazzil for his work on the steps at Mauritiustown and in particular for finding an engineering solution for the top of the steps.