Fifty years of creating independence in Ireland
After half a century of giving people with disabilities in Ireland privacy and dignity, Cheshire Homes is looking ahead to more challenges
His job includes booking flights and accommodation for all American dignitaries coming to Ireland.
“I don’t travel a lot myself for work – a few conferences in Europe and I’ve only been to America on [personal] holidays,” he says.
A car crash at the age of 18 left Mansfield with permanent spinal cord injuries. He has been a wheelchair user since then.
He moved into the Cheshire Home in Phoenix Park in 1993 and stayed 12 years.
“I started working in the American Embassy from there using Cheshire transport.
“Since I moved into my own apartment, my care assistants drive me to work,” he explains.
Built in 1974, the Cheshire Home in the Phoenix Park was one of the first purpose- built Cheshire residential centres for people with physical disabilities in Ireland.
“There wasn’t huge camaraderie there. I didn’t like having visitors.
“If someone came to see me, it wasn’t to sit down with a bunch of grapes and a bottle of Lucazade, it was to bring me out,” says Mansfield.
He bought and moved into his apartment eight years ago.
“It was difficult to get funding for the package I wanted and I spent one year looking for a ground-floor apartment with its own front door.
“I had to have a ramp built, the bathroom fitted out and a hoist put in to move me from the bath, onto the bed and to the sofa so I can sit down.”
So is he happy with his independent life? He smiles and says, “I can decide my own menu. I get up when I want to and I always have a carer with me when I’m not at work. I like my own space and time.
“It works for me. I do my own thing,” he says.
Mary Gaul: ‘I’m more confident and I’d like to inspire other people to live independently as I do’
Mary Gaul shared a room with five other people for more than 20 years of her life. Just over two years ago, she moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Dún Laoghaire. Her life has been transformed since then.
“In the beginning, I was afraid but not any more,” says Gaul, who was born with cerebral palsy and lived at home with her parents, sisters and brothers until she was 17.
“I went to the Enable Ireland school in Sandymount and then to boarding schools in Bray and Baldoyle. I only moved out of home [into residential care] because my family couldn’t look after me any more and that was hard,” she says.
A strong, independent-minded woman, Gaul says life was difficult in the Barrett Cheshire Home on Herbert St, Dublin where she spent most of her early adult life.