Guide to Disabled Holidays Around Ireland
Travel can be an exciting opportunity to explore new places, take a city break, or enjoy some sandy beaches in warmer climes. For many, particularly wheelchair users, people with disabilities, and the elderly, travel can be a stressful experience when looking for supported holidays and accessible accommodations. Fortunately, many travel agencies now specialise in disabled holidays and the quantity and quality of accessible hotels in Ireland are increasing year over year. We have complied a small page below of handy information and resources that we hope will be useful for when planning your break around Ireland. We plan to keep adding to the resource page as we get feedback so please feel free to comment and share.
Travel Options for Disabled Travellers
Within Ireland and much of the EU, modern buildings such as rail stations and airports are becoming increasingly aware of the need to provide fully accessible infrastructure to permit disabled access. Although efforts are being made to retrofit wheelchair accessible ramps in some older buildings, the fact still remains that in many areas of Ireland there is little to no support for disabled travellers. The good news is that accessible holidays around Ireland are becoming easier and more abundant, but proper planning and research are always recommended.
Airport Travel Considerations
Within Ireland and across the EU, airport assistance is available for all disabled travellers and people with reduced mobility. Over 10 airports on the island of Ireland offer free assistance to these passengers, but naturally provisions should be made at least 48 hours prior to travel. Airport staff can assist you with check-in, passing through security, and getting to your flight. As with all airline passengers, do ensure that you arrive at the airport with ample time to pass through security and to make it to your gate on time.
Public Transport in Dublin
Most public transport systems in the Republic of Ireland have wheelchair accessibility for passengers, but outside of Dublin and other metropolitan areas, service may not be guaranteed and thus it’s wise to enquire in advance. Dublin is served by city bus (Dublin Bus), rail (Dart), and two tram lines (Luas). Here’s what you can expect using Dublin’s public transport system:
- Dublin Bus: nearly every bus in the fleet is a low-floor, wheelchair accessible bus with space for one wheelchair traveller. See their website for Dublin Bus accessibility information;
- Dart: the train wagons have plenty of space for wheelchair users, but be aware that not all stations are accessible. See the website for information on DART, Maynooth and Northern Commuter Accessibility Policy here;
- Luas: Dublin’s two tram lines are both compliant with the accessibility standards for transport systems and are thus wheelchair-friendly. See their web page on accessibility of the Luas network.
Inter-city Travel across Ireland
Travelling around Ireland by coach or by train is possible for disabled travellers, but advanced bookings are recommended to ensure that you’re allotted an accessible space. The major inter-city coach and rail services in Ireland are:
- Bus Éireann: with 70% of its coach fleet having accessible ramps and designated wheelchair spaces, Ireland’s national coach service is an ideal solution for disabled travellers;
- Iarnród Éireann/Irish Rail: long-distance rail travel for disabled travellers should be booked in advance, but they do endeavour to assist all disabled travellers.
Local Transport Service Outside Dublin
While Dublin’s transport system offers many accessible choices for disabled travellers, the same cannot be said elsewhere. Other metropolitan cities such as Cork and Limerick as well as rural areas may not have as many wheelchair accessible buses available, so enquire beforehand to ensure that you’re able to be accommodated.
Accessible Accommodation in Ireland
Finding accommodation over the internet is easy, but finding wheelchair accessible hotels in Ireland isn’t always as easy. It’s helpful to have a good, up-to-date list of hotels and accommodations that offer quality accommodations for disabled travellers and other medical requirements. At O’Flynn Medical we can personally recommend a list of hotels because they’ve always been helpful when we’ve worked with them installing equipment to assist those with accessibility issues and disabled holidaymakers. The Discover Ireland website also have a list of suitable wheelchair accessible hotels you can checkout.
There’s also the Irish Wheelchair Association who ‘provide accessible and supported holidays and breaks to people with disabilities and their families/carers at several locations around the country’. Recognisable by their ABLE Awards, these hotels and holiday homes have adapted rooms for your comfort and convenience. Although these accommodation options are ideal for many disabled holidays, it’s always a good idea to contact your desired hotel and speak with the manager to find out what your options are. For example, ask how high the beds are or whether or not the showers facilities are roll-in. Just because a hotel advertises itself as being wheelchair-accessible doesn’t mean that their rooms have your specific needs in mind. Furthermore, make a point of enquiring about the number of beds in the room. For some reason, many hotel owners seem to forget that disabled travellers often have families and neglect to put more than one bed in their adapted rooms. For all of these reasons, we recommend that you use our list of quality hotels and holiday homes for a smooth experience.
Medical Equipment Rental
No matter whether you’re planning a disabled holiday in Ireland from abroad or a staycation for some much-needed rest and relaxation, you’ll want to ensure that your stay is made possible and accommodating for your mobility needs. Mobility equipment rentals from O’Flynn Medical are a great solution for enjoying your holidays around Ireland. Our high-quality medical equipment can be delivered all around Ireland and installed at hotels, guesthouses, and private accommodations, and we’ll also remove the equipment after your stay. Minimal fuss. Here’s a sample of what you can hire from O’Flynn Medical for your next holiday:
- Wheelchair rentals
- Profiling hospital bed rentals (including air mattresses)
- Hoist and sling hire
- Bariatric equipment
Accessible Attractions in Ireland
As with many famous landmarks and tourist attractions in Europe, many of Ireland’s historic churches, abbeys, and castles were built in an age where wheelchair accessibility was not a major consideration. Thus, many historic sites can be visited where ramps are provided, but quite often only the ground floor and outdoor portions may be possible to visit with a wheelchair. The Cliffs Of Moher in Co.Clare on the West Coast is a very popular visitor attraction which is wheelchair accessible. Other standout attractions include Fota Wildlife Park in Cork which is one of the Top 25 Zoo/Animal Parks in Europe. There is suitable wheelchair facilities including cafes, tour trains and pathways.
Within the Republic of Ireland, Heritage Ireland maintains a list of such attractions as well as more detailed information such as opening hours and accessibility.
Accessible Attractions in Dublin
Dublin is a popular city to visit at any time of the year, and it’s certainly far more wheelchair-friendly than many other large European capitals. There are neighbourhoods and parts of the city that may not have dropped kerbs, but fortunately, much of the historic city centre, tram stops, and train stations are easy to navigate by foot or by wheelchair. Here are a few attractions you shouldn’t miss if you’re on a disabled holiday in Dublin. Also see ‘9 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Dublin’ as a good webpage resource.
- Henry Street & Grafton Street: if you love being around all the action or just want to do some people watching, Henry Street and Grafton Street are pedestrian-only areas that have many great pubs, cafes, and shops that are, for the most part, flat-entry and wheelchair-accessible;
- Temple Bar: another busy and touristy area is the world-famous Temple Bar and the nearby Mediaeval District. Although cobblestones and old paths may pose a challenge, dropped kerbs on sidewalks are common here, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Do try to visit during the day, as Temple Bar pubs become very crowded with tourists in the evening;
- Trinity College: a historic part of the University of Dublin, Trinity College is itself beautiful and is home to the Book of Kells. Queues can be rather long, so be sure to book online in advance. Wheelchair users should speak with a member of security to use the lifts;
- The National Galleries of Ireland – Art and Archaeology: although there are four galleries worth visiting, art and archaeology are recommended on account of their wheelchair accessibility. These museums can be navigated easily and are an ideal way to justify some time spent indoors and out of Dublin’s frequent rain;
- The Guinness Storehouse: the Guinness museum and brewery tour are touristy and are therefore prone to long queues, but they’re popular for good reason: fresh Guinness from the source! The brewery can be toured easily as there are many lifts for wheelchair users, and there’s even a tap that can be lowered so you can learn to pour your own pint of Guinness.
Need to rent some equipment? – Speak to our Team
Let O’Flynn Medical Ltd take care of your rental equipment worries. We will coordinate with the hotel or guesthouse to make sure everything is set-up for your arrival.