Legionnaires’ Disease case: Spas should ‘be alert to dangers in water’, says woman

Former guest gets apology from five star hotel for ‘very serious injuries’

Mary Kelleher leaving court after receiving an apology. Photograph: Collins Courts

Mary Kelleher leaving court after receiving an apology. Photograph: Collins Courts


An apology was read out in the High Court on Thursday to a woman who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease after using the spa facilities of a five star hotel in Co Kerry.

The apology was given in court by the Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, and NCH Ireland Limited (Chem Aqua) to Mary Kelleher who got Legionnaires Disease after staying in the Muckross Park Hotel in August 2015 as a special treat to celebrate her silver wedding anniversary.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told on Thursday the case had been settled and the apology was then read by Eoin Clifford SC, for the hotel and NCH Ireland Ltd.

Muckross Park Hotel and NCH Ireland stated they sincerely apologised to Ms Kelleher and her family “for the very serious injuries she suffered following her contraction of Legionnaires Disease at the Muckross Park Hotel in August 2015.

“We wish to assure Ms Kelleher as the owners of the hotel, we have made significant investment in the facilities and a best practice legionella prevention programme since we purchased the hotel in 2015.

“The hotel has implemented substantial changes to ensure that there is no reoccurrence of this event.

“We do not underestimate the profound distress and impact that this has had and continues to have on her life.”

The details of the settlement are confidential.

Mr Justice Cross said he was very pleased the case had settled and hoped Ms Kelleher can get back to as much health as she can.

Induced coma

Ms Kelleher was in an induced coma for three weeks and was discharged from hospital after 54 days in a wheelchair and with crutches.

Outside court Ms Kelleher said she is lucky to be alive today but she will have to live with the consequences of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease for the rest of her life.

In a statement read by her solicitor Amy Connolly she added: “ On the 6th of August 2015 my husband and I travelled to the five star Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry for an overnight spa break to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Little did I know that it would almost claim my life.”

She said spent three weeks in an induced coma “critically ill and fighting for my life.”

She added: “I hope that by highlighting this issue the hospitality industry will sit up and take note that Legionnaires Disease is a very real risk to all customers.”

Spa operators, she said need “to be alert to the dangers lurking in their water systems.”

Ms Kelleher, and her husband Jer of Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork had decided to “splash out” on a stay in the five star luxury hotel in Killarney to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

She told the High Court she went to the spa after check in and “tried everything” including the pool, the sauna, steam room and the hot and cold spa pool. After they checked out, she said the couple were “on top of the world and very happy.” But within days she was feeling unwell, her muscles were aching and she was very tired.

She went to the doctor and a viral infection was suspected but she was feeling tired and she said it was “like my muscles were losing power”. When she went back to a doctor she was told she had pneumonia and was transferred to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

“I can remember being admitted and put in a ward but I don’t remember anything else.”

Ms Kelleher had sued INUA Hospitality Series 2 Ltd with offices at Little Island, Cork and trading as Muckross Park Hotel Killarney and specialist water treatment business, NCH Ireland Ltd trading as Chem Aqua with offices at Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin after she was exposed to and contracted Legionnaires Disease after using the hotel spa facilities when she was a guest there on August 6th/7th, 2015.