Travelling during the pandemic has become our new normal, but accessible holidays are still hard gotten. If you’re planning a Covid-safe holiday getaway and are on the lookout for accessible venues, stays and locations, we speak to three wheelchair users and Wanderlust experts who have done the hard work for you. This isn’t every accessible venue in Ireland, rather an edit of places that those with various accessibility needs feel go some way to getting it right.
First, Sharon Myers who runs her incredible Instagram account
@themyers_family with her 10- year-old son Noah, a full-time wheelchair user, recommends some of her go-to spots around the country for a fun-filled, accessible day out.
“We absolutely loved this attraction/experience — as Noah was learning about the famine in school, he found it particularly interesting. What I absolutely loved about it is the fact they had made the boat wheelchair accessible with an elevator that will bring you down to the lower deck.”
“Being completely honest, I think Center Parcs hands down get top marks when it comes to accessibility and wheelchair friendliness.
“It really is a trip of a lifetime and although it can be costly during peak times, nothing could really compare in Ireland to the level of detail they’ve gone to when it comes to inclusiveness.
“For the most part, I would find it hard to pick any particular accommodation that ticks all the boxes when it comes to accessibility, personally we find obviously the more modern the hotel the more accessibility features they have, and after visiting Center Parcs in Longford Forest, it’s amazing to see what can be done when accessibility is in the forefront of a businesses’ mind — it would be amazing to see all hotels, and accommodation in Ireland follow suit.”
“We have a real grá for Killarney and while it can be very busy during peak season overall, we find Killarney one of the most wheelchair friendly towns in
“Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms are lovely to walk around, have a picnic or just enjoy the scenery, unfortunately the jaunting cars aren’t wheelchair friendly but if you can transfer out of your chair the drivers will be happy to assist.”
“With the availability of beach friendly wheelchairs now becoming commonplace in a lot of beaches around Ireland, Inch in Kerry would be one of our favourites to visit.
“The beach is really wide and long and if you would prefer to stay in your own chair, as Noah often does, the sand is very impacted so it’s easy to wheel on.”
“While mainly focused on advertising to cyclists, the Greenways and Blueways around Ireland have been an amazing addition to accessible days out for wheelchair users and families like ours.
“The Acres Lake Boardwalk in Leitrim is one worth mentioning along with the Waterford greenway with so many different places to stop and go wandering.”
“It would be a sin if I didn’t mention this amazing day out seeing as we are from Cork, but it’s absolutely brilliant and wheelchair friendly too — a must visit.”
Next, Samantha Ryan of @Wheel_Reviews, who documents her frequently visited accessible venues on Instagram, restaurants and spots around Ireland recommends a mix worth a getaway.
“This is a newly renovated field, there’s accessible picnic benches. There’s a path the whole way around which has been newly tarmacadamed. It’s extremely easy to push around with disabled parking and from a wheelchair user’s point of view, it’s brilliant.”
“This has a ramped, fully accessible boat. The quay around here is extremely accessible, there’s accessible toilets and accessible benches. The staff here are trained to help wheelchair users too, which is great and there’s also accessible parking.”
“This one has disabled parking with a ramp onto the boat which is fully accessible. The boat holds up to six manual wheelchair users. Staff on board are also trained to help wheelchair users.”
“The whole tour is fully accessible with disabled parking spaces outside the front and adapted toilets as well.”
“There’s a beach boardwalk here which is extremely accessible to push on, with ramps onto the beach. There’s disabled parking, however, I think it could be improved as the pavements around the parking lot are up a little steep. It’s worth noting though, that there’s no disabled parking here.”
“This lovely restaurant contains a ramp in the door, and overall, it’s extremely spacious throughout. The tables here are accessible and a wheelchair easily fits under the tables which is always nice! There’s also disabled toilets.”
“Both hotels have disabled parking, level access throughout. Fully accessible spacious rooms with accessible bathrooms. Disabled toilet facilities are also downstairs in the lobby so you don’t have to trek back upstairs to your room.”
“There’s loads of disabled parking, wheelchair toilets in the lobby, with a lowered receptionist desk too, for added ease. Located in a village with a pub just a two-minute walk, this is on a flat surface, which means it’s so easy to push from the hotel to the pub, the pub (which also has a wheelchair toilet).
“Essentially, I think staff should be trained to help or assist wheelchair users,” Samantha says, when asked what more can venues and hotels can do when it comes to accessibility.
“It really is all down to the little things, from helping hold a door open to keeping disabled toilets free — I’ve been to so many places that use their toilets as a room to hold cleaning supplies. Keep the red safety cords down in the bathroom. From a design point of view, I think that they could get someone in a wheelchair to check out the building plans or get tips on what might be missing.
“In hotels, the things that really help are:
- Disabled parking with access aisles;
- Level access into the hotel;
- Lowered receptionist desk so we can talk face-to-face with receptionist staff;
- Don’t have wheelchair rooms down the end of the corridor as it’s so hard to push on carpets, trying to carry bags and open heavy doors;
- Have disabled toilets in the lobby as well as rooms, and make sure mirrors are lowered etc.”
Finally, Sean, co-founder of Access for All Ireland tells us his favourite accessible hotel spots and what needs to change when it comes to making the hotel experience completely accessible.
“My and my fiance, we’re both wheelchair users,” says Sean. “So we have stayed in plenty of hotels. And they’ve all been pretty accessible. One we’ve stayed in a few times has been the City North Hotel in Louth. They’re accessible and everyone’s very accommodating, which we found brilliant.
“However, one thing I want to point out is not to this hotel, but generally, is that even though many hotels are accessible, often the showers aren’t suitable. What tends to be the norm is the shower fixed to the wall, and the shower itself being a million miles away. I’ve been told genuinely across the board that generally, hotels don’t have a supply of appropriate showers for wheelchairs. And we feel that that needs to change.”
“In our opinion, these definitely are one of the top hotels when it comes to promoting visible accessibility from the time of booking, if not before. They actively say on their website about accessibility, with very nice staff and fully accessible rooms as well.”