Thady Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, the seventh earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, died at his home in Kilgobbin House in Adare, Co Limerick, last Friday after an illness. Aged 71, he is survived by his wife Lady Geraldine and his daughter Ana.
Yesterday, the chief executive of the Irish Wheelchair Association, Kathleen McLoughlin, paid tribute to the earl, who was president of the association from 1971-91.
"He genuinely cared about people. He sparkled, he had a twinkle in his eye, he was a really good man," she said.
"He was just a gentle character, with a fantastic sense of humour but with a steeliness to him to fight for what he believed in. His most significant contribution was that he could articulate what people's needs were and push for a response at government level."
She said his presidency of the association over two decades was used to step up the pressure to include people with disabilities in every aspect of life. This included getting disabled access to buildings, to people getting out of their homes, and using 1981 as the Year of the Disabled to push politically for change.
He had studied what was going on internationally and had researched the area before approaching government.
She said there were no hard facts at that time about how many people had disabilities in Ireland, or what their needs were. He used that information to influence the State to say these were the numbers, these were their needs and this is what you needed to do for them.
She pointed out that in 1977 35 per cent of association members were totally confined to their homes. Poignantly, the earl was included in a chapter of a commemorative book launched this week in Croke Park, Extraordinary Lives, to mark the 50th anniversary of the association.
Born in 1939, he was the son of Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin, sixth Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, and Nancy Yuille. He married Geraldine McAleer in 1969 and was confined to a wheelchair after suffering from polio when he was a schoolboy. Educated at Ludgrove School, Berkshire, England, and Le Rosey School, Rolle, Switzerland, he succeeded to the title in 1965.
Valentine Richard Quin was created a baronet in 1781, becoming the first Earl of Dunraven and the title Mount-Earl was added in 1816. The family had a succession of MPs and the fourth earl was a senator in the Irish Free State. The family were among the largest landowners in Co Limerick. The seventh earl sold the family home, Adare Manor, and its contents in the Eighties for a reputed £2m and it became the hotel and golf resort after being purchased by Irish-American businessman Tom Kane. Adare Manor is set on a 840-acre estate and former US President Bill Clinton stayed there in 1998.
The earl lived with his family in nearby Kilgobbin House.
The earl is also survived by his sisters Melissa and Caroline. His funeral will take place this Wednesday at 12 noon at St Nicholas Church, Adare, Co Limerick.