Skerries man, Fergal Butler is a remarkable man by any stretch of the imagination. Not only is he the full-time carer for his wife, Lynda who is an MS sufferer and his son Kyle (15), who has cerebral palsy, he is in the process of renovating a 35 foot cabin cruiser. His main motivation for renovating the boat, is that it can be used by the entire family for holidays on the River Shannon.
Fergal, who is a handyman extraordinaire, having recently won the All-Ireland Arro sponsored King of DIY in a facebook competition, has no formal training in any of the skills required to undertake such an undertaking. Undeterred, multi-talented Fergal set about retrieving the cruiser, which was sunk in the Jolly Mariner Marina in Athlone. Fergal set about retrieving the stricken boat, with one particular goal in mind. He was determined to make his dream boat totally wheelchair accessible for the other dream boat in his life, Lynda and his son, Kyle. He believes that it will be the only fully wheelchair accessible cabin cruiser in the country. From the moment you come on board the beautifully and lovingly restored cruiser, it is obvious that Fergal is a man of outstanding skills. There is a fitted hoist to lift Kyle into bed, as well as all areas being accessible for Lynda to negotiate. All electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, painting and engine work have been expertly completed by Fergal.He told the County Leader about how his passion for restoring boats began. “I started building small wooden boats that could fit into my back garden. It helped me look after my young son, Kyle, where I could work there and pop in and out of the house as needed. The plan was to sell them on and eventually buy a cruiser and adapt it. Unfortunately one of the boats sank, but another one is on display at Wineport Lodge on Lough Ree, which is used by them for weddings and photo shoots.”
Fergal started work on the new cruiser last May and he intends to have it completed by April or May this year. It will be used primarily for holidays on the Shannon.
Lynda, who also hails from Skerries, said, “I really feel excited about this venture because it’s going to give our family the freedom that we never had to go on holidays together, to be on holidays and enjoy life together,” she said.