What began as a hugely ambitious dream has become a wonderful reality for one Carrick-on-Shannon family. Tony and Cora Byrne, who live on the Boyle Road in the county town, are set to sign contracts on a 65,000 square foot facility which will eventually become a theme park for children with special needs. The park will honour the memory of their late son Billy.
Billy’s World will be based on the grounds of the five star Heritage Hotel in Killenard, County Laois. Investors in the hotel contacted the family following the Byrne’s appearance on TV3’s Ireland AM last September.
The hotel’s representatives have offered Tony and Cora the use of a 25,000 square foot indoor arena and a 40,000 square foot outdoor area in order to push their plans that bit further to becoming something more absolute.
Billy Byrne passed away at Temple Street Children’s Hospital on March 24th 2013, just one week short of his sixth birthday. Billy had Pallister Killian Syndrome, a rare development disorder which affects many parts of the body. Life expectancy is normal in those who suffer from PKS, but Billy’s untimely death came after he contracted influenza and was unable to recover.
The determined couple now plan to establish a top of the range sensory adventure theme park which will provide a suitable environment for children with special needs to play and interact with their families.It is envisaged that Billy’s World will be split into two areas -Kansas and Oz.
Kansas will contain a main reception area, charity offices, accommodation units and picnic areas.
It is planned that Oz, the second stage of the development will feature pergola tunnels, an activity sensory park which includes rope climbing to suit all levels, slides, a playground, a mini-golf course and three different themed hedge mazes which will feature different games and challenges.
Families who visit Billy’s World will also benefit from the hotel’s close proximity and its numerous facilities. These include many restaurants and bars, a world class spa, spacious function rooms, a 50 seater cinema and even a championship golf course designed by the late Seve Ballesteros.
It is believed that it will cost up to €700,000 to fully furnish the 285 acre site. To date, Billy’s World has raised over €150,000 courtesy of various fundraisers including parachute jumps, marathons and themed fun runs
To keep up to date with Tony and Cora’s dream and Billy’s World as it progresses, visit their Facebook page ‘Billy’s World Ireland’.