Family of a paralympic athlete from Cork criticized the lack of disability access granted to the event in her honor

The family of a pioneering paralympian has threatened to withdraw its support for an exhibition in her honour on Spike Island because it won’t be accessible to wheelchair users.

The family of the late Cork woman Kay McShane said she fought against such discrimination all her life and any exhibition honouring her remarkable sporting achievements must be accessible to all.

The members of the BCIL would like to raise their concerns about the upcoming event at the Spike Island. Kay McShane was Board member of BCIL, She lived for many years in Mulhuddart. Kay spend her life campaigning for the rights of Disabled People through her work with the Blanchardstown Centre of Independent Living.

Kay won a silver medal in the marathon at the 1984 summer Paralympics in London, and two bronze medals, in the marathon and 800m, at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul. The Event at Spike Island is a Tribute to her and the work she has achieved for Disabled People. We would love our current members of BCIL to attend this event. It is unfortunate to hear that this event is not wheelchair accessible due to the large hill at Spike Island and the fact that there is no wheelchair accessible transport available.

One of her sisters, Anne, said the family is extremely proud of Kay’s record in sport and of her fight for equality of access, especially for wheelchair users.

“Obviously, we would like to see this exhibition happen but we know that if Kay was alive, she would insist it was accessible to all,” Anne said.

SIDC, which manages the Spike Island visitor attraction which opened in Cork Harbour in 2016, approached Kay’s family in 2020 with a proposal to host an exhibition honouring her life and sporting achievements.

The family provided a vast amount of memorabilia and in June 2021, Anne, and her sister, Mary, accompanied Kay’s husband, Michael, a wheelchair user, on a visit to Spike with his grandson, 20, to discuss the details.

But Anne said Michael had physical difficulties getting on and off the ferry, even with the assistance of his grandson, and the most serious problem was that the bus on the island was not wheelchair accessible.

The family stressed to SIDC that an accessible bus had to be a priority, and they commissioned an independent engineering assessment which recommended the immediate provision of accessible transport from the island’s ferry landing to the main visitor areas.

“All other changes to the centre are meaningless if it is not possible for people to make their way from the ferry to the fort,” the report said. For more access: Cork paralympian’s family criticise lack of disability access to event planned in her honour (

Kay’s wish was for universal design and she would wish for her husband and all other disabled adults to have the right to have access to visit this event. BCIL strongly desire, advice to make this event Wheelchair accessible as that is what Kay McShane and the community would want.