Miracle escape after collapse of hotel ceiling
A group of Wicklow councillors and GAA officials had a miraculous escape from injury after a huge section of a restaurant ceiling at the Parkview Hotel in Newtownmountkennedy collapsed onto the floor with a crash during a meeting.
The shocking incident happened as Cllrs John Snell, Shay Cullen, Daire Nolan and Gail Dunne of Wicklow Municipal District met with two representatives of Newtownmountkennedy GAA Club, Sean Tiernan and Noel Doyle, in the empty restaurant last Tuesday evening.
Cllr Snell said he had no doubt that if there had been anyone under the ceiling as it came crashing down, they would have been killed or seriously injured.
'Thankfully, the restaurant was empty apart from us. It was off limits for the meeting. There was a huge number of people in the lounge at the time', he said.
Hugo Pinto, Operations Director of the Chris Kelly Group which bought the busy hotel last May, said there was no advance warning or indication of a problem before the incident.
A comprehensive survey of the entire building was carried out at the time the group purchased the hotel, which was constructed 12 years ago.
A further survey was conducted immediately after last Tuesday's incident and repairs were carried out on the damaged ceiling, allowing the restaurant to re-open on Friday evening.
Mr Pinto said that fortunately no-one was injured in the incident, adding that he would like to reassure Parkview customers that all necessary repairs have been carried out and the hotel is safe and open for business.
Cllr Snell said he was one of the first to arrive for the meeting which started at about 7.40 p.m.
'About five minutes into it, we heard a loud crash and suddenly, the ceiling collapsed. It came down in one piece, about 30ft by 30ft. I would say it weighed a couple of tonnes', said Cllr Snell who praised hotel management for their quick reaction.
'Management acted quickly to ensure that we were okay and helped us out through the window onto the Main Street. The restaurant was cordoned off.'
'The ceiling fell right beside us. Someone was looking out for us. It was only for the grace of God that someone wasn't killed or seriously injured', said the Independent councillor.
The only section of ceiling that didn't fall was an area measuring about three table widths directly above where the councillors and GAA officials were sitting, according to the Wicklow councillor.
He said the section of ceiling that fell was made of timber and about six inches thick.
'It fell in once piece. 'If anyone had been under it, I have no doubt they would have been killed or badly injured. I'm just glad that no-one was seriously hurt', he said.
'It was a shock but to be honest, everyone got home in one piece. That's the most important thing. Also, the people employed there are back at work.'
The restaurant was closed during the week for repairs and re-opened on Friday evening.
'It could have been a very different story. There was a party there the Saturday night before with about 70 people in attendance', said Cllr. Snell.
'The way I look at it, nobody was killed, nobody was hurt.The manager rang the next day to see how we were. I just wished them the best of luck with getting the ceiling repaired'.
'We hear about stories every day of the week where people weren't as lucky to escape the way we did', he said.