“Little did I know that it would almost claim my life.”
These are the words of mother of two Mary Kelleher, who spent three weeks in a hospital-induced coma when she contracted Legionnaires’ disease after using the spa in the luxury Muckross Park Hotel, Kerry.
Five years on, Ms Kelleher has settled her High Court action over the incident and was in court with her family as an apology was read from the five-star hotel and NCH Ireland Limited (Chem Aqua) for “the very serious injuries she suffered”.
The hotel, which said it had implemented substantial changes to ensure there is no reoccurrence of the event, said: “We do not underestimate the profound distress and impact this has had and continues to have on her life.”
Ms Kelleher spent 54 days in hospital after contracting the disease.
Mary Kelleher, 55, of Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork 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 6/7, 2015.
Outside court yesterday, in a statement via her solicitor, Amy Connolly, of Cantillon Solicitors, 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 my life”.
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 she contracted Legionnaires’ disease in the hotel and spent three weeks in an induced coma in hospital intensive care “critically ill and fighting for my life”.
She said what upsets her most “is that my illness could have been prevented”.
She now hopes 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, said Ms Kelleher, need “to be alert to the dangers lurking in their water systems”.
“I also hope that my story will raise people’s awareness of Legionnaires’ disease. People who go to a spa in Ireland should expect to leave it as healthy as when they entered,” the statement concluded.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the case had been settled. The details of the settlement are confidential.
In the apology read to the court, Muckross Park Hotel added: “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.
In evidence, Ms Kelleher told the court she had been blessed with fantastic health before contracting Legionnaires disease.
“I used to walk in the hills. Now with an incline I feel it in my chest,” she said.