A specially-designed holiday home, the only one of its kind in Ireland, has opened its Inishowen doors and welcomed its first family.

Hoist Away’s Culdaff Cabin is a bespoke facility, allowing anyone who relies on a hoist and other specialised equipment to enjoy a break by the sea, with their family.

Speaking to Donegal Now, Hoist Away representative, Úna McGinley said the Culdaff Cabin had already made a “massive difference” to the lives of its first guests, who had just arrived on Friday past.

A clearly delighted Úna said: “We started Hoist Away in December 2015 and, within three and a half years, we have put up a facility in Culdaff, which has already made a massive difference to our first family, who have only been here two days.

“The whole family is having a holiday. Members of their extended family have been dropping in since Friday and more visitors are coming down this week. It is brilliant.

“I feel very proud of the whole Hoist Away Team. My one and only, my wife Patricia has been beside me the full way, 100 percent. And the community of Culdaff, particularly the children from the caravan site, the young teenagers, they have given up so much to take part: Mollie, Shannon, Lauren, Ciaran, Ronan, Dermott and Sophie. They have all been involved and they have all taken part and they have all done anything at all that we have asked. The community in Culdaff have been brilliant and the support from Derry has been phenomenal. I couldn’t actually list the number of people who were part of Team Hoist Away.

“Hoist Away’s Culdaff Cabin could not have come to fruition without our Leader grant from the Inishowen Development Partnership and those who worked so tirelessly on the application. That is not to forget the wee jars filled with coppers by Uncle Tom Cobley and all and everyone who took part in and supported all of our fundraising activities,” said Úna.

Laughing, Úna said for her next project she is just waiting on the person who is going to come and hand her a €100,000 cheque and say, ‘Here Úna, go and put up a second Cabin.’”

Úna said her inspiration throughout the Hoist Away project was a Derry woman called Nora Doherty (Nora McDonagh).

She recalled: “Many people would have known Nora. She was from Enagh Lough (Strathfoyle). Nora then lived in Creggan and eventually lived out in Inch View.

“She was an absolute lady. Nora had three sons, who were disabled, and I never saw her without a smile, and it was a pleasure and a privilege that her daughter, Maura, and her granddaughter, Lauren, were the first people staying in the Cabin.”

Maura (Doherty) described the Hoist Away Culdaff Cabin as “absolutely amazing.”

She said: “My husband, Joe and my daughter, Lauren and I are having a brilliant time. Lauren has severe special needs and would need hoisted. We can’t take her away on holidays because there are never any facilities for hoisting and Lauren is too big to lift now.

“Úna invited us to the Hoist Away Cabin and the facilities are amazing. Lauren has used the shower. We have been able to use all of the facilities, which are right at hand.

“It was about three years since we were last able to take Lauren away on holidays because you were going into a hotel, a disabled room but there was no hoist, so we still have to lift her, which we physically can’t do anymore. But the Hoist Away Cabin is amazing and the view outside is stunning. Lauren is so content. She is smiling and beaming from ear to ear since she has been here. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who has a family member that is in a wheelchair.

“You have no idea how hard it is to take a person with disabilities away on holiday. The things you have to think ahead about. But this holiday home, Hoist Away’s Culdaff Cabin has absolutely everything for the perfect holiday,” smiled Maura.

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