Last One on the Train - New Six Part Radio Series from RTÉ

April 4 2024, 11:50am

Sophie Mulvany

'You are invited to leave behind any assumptions you may have about disability… These are stories from a new generation, about human wrongs and human rights, about power and pride and the love to be found in Ireland's "invisible ghetto".’

RTÉ presents a new six-part radio docu-series that brings a personal perspective to life for physically disabled people in Ireland. Produced by Independent Radio Producer, Susan Dennehy, ‘Last One on the Train’ provides a 26-minute window into the lives of each of the six young participants as they navigate their day-to-day in a wheelchair.

The series:

  • Follows six people, who use a wheelchair, going about their everyday.
  • Captures the humour, the personalities and the colour of the lives of the six people who feature, none of whom set out to become disability advocates but had no choice.
  • Highlights the chronic ableism at play in Ireland - physical barriers, ableist attitudes, systemic discrimination.

The series was created by independent radio producer Susan Dennehy, who has a 19 year old daughter who uses a wheelchair fulltime. Commenting on the series Susan said, "I know that we have a big problem with ableism in this country because I witness it. As a society we are very ill-informed about disability and disabled people are often underestimated, disrespected and patronised. In terms of the built environment, wheelchair access standards are low with the result that wheelchair users are often excluded from work, social life and services. If any other person were refused entry to a building or a train because of who they were there in this way there would be outcry. Support services like essential therapy, equipment and PA services are in short supply and hard to access."

Susan continued, "I made this series for my daughter and to highlight the barriers that face disabled people trying to negotiate life in Ireland. We need awareness, leadership and laws that ensure our disabled citizens are treated equally. I do believe that we are on the cusp of change in this regard – the new generation of disabled people have more confidence and are casting off the stigma of the charitable and medical models of disability. They have witnessed how it can be done in other countries and are calling for the social model of disability, equality and full inclusion in Ireland. The series opens with recordings of Ireland’s first Disability Pride event held in July 2023 and will be broadcast while preparations for disability pride month, July 2024, are underway."

'Last One on the Train' will air on RTE Radio One on Sunday evenings at 7.30pm from the 7 April to 12 May inclusive.

The participants: 

Episode 1 Leesa Flynn 

26 year old disability advocate Leesa Flynn takes part in Ireland’s first Disability Pride Parade and graduates to become, in all likelihood, the first wheelchair user to qualify as a primary school teacher in Ireland. Leesa highlights the barriers and ableism that she has overcome to get to this point in her life.


Episode 2 Padraig Schaler 

Passionate about the Irish language music and travel, Padraig Schaler lives a full life despite the severe brain injury he acquired in an accident 10 years ago. Incredibly, Padraig’s family had to establish a day service themselves so Padraig could live at home instead of in a nursing home.


Episode 3 Michael Hennessy and Leona Tuck 

Interabled couple Michael Hennessy and Leona Tuck visit an urban park and hike a woodland trail in Wexford. Following their honeymoon in California, where wheelchair access is normal, the pair set up ‘TheStruggleisWheel’ to review the accessibility of their outdoor adventures in Ireland.


Episode 4 Sophia Mulvany 

In an effort to achieve their goal of access for all, politically minded teenager, Sophia Mulvany and her Dad, Bernard highlight what it’s like to negotiate your first disco and Ireland’s public transport system in a wheelchair.


Episode 5 Graham Merrigan 

Wheelchair basketball player and Shamrock Rovers fan, Graham Merrigan has been advocating for equality since he was a teenager. In his thirties now he has a job, a volunteer role and an award winning podcast to keep him busy but on New Year’s Day when he saw the inaccessibility of the new €18million Dun Laoghaire Baths refurbishment project he was dismayed.


Episode 6 - Maryam

Writer, Singer, and founder of Disability Power Ireland Maryam was at the helm of Ireland's first Disability Pride and Power Festival, 2023. She shares her experience of being ‘double othered’ because of her skin colour and her disability and, in contrast, attends choir practice with The Discovery Gospel Choir - Dublin's most inclusive choir.


Source for images: RTE