Thursday, March 26, 2009

Think Ireland Is Not Accessible? Think Again...

Ireland has long been a popular vacation destination for US travelers. And although the Americans with Disabilities Act does not extend across the Big Pond; that does not mean the island is lacking in accessibility. Quite the contrary; in fact, Ireland is a very attractive and doable option for slow walkers and wheelchair-users.

Ireland has made great strides in accessibility, especially in the past several years. Back in the late 1990s there were only two rooms with roll-in showers in all of Dublin. Since then, dozens of new hotels have opened in Dublin alone, and every new property has at least two (and often more) accessible rooms with roll in showers. And if you would like to stay in a castle, that is certainly an option too since Dromoland Castle, near Shannon Airport, has a very nice accessible room.

Accessible transportation is also improving in Ireland. If you need an accessible taxi at Dublin or Shannon airport you should not have a problem either. Although you could easily spend your whole holiday in Dublin, you can branch out and also spend several nights in Galway, followed by several more in Limmerick or Killarney. Unfortunately wheelchair-accessible rental vans are not the norm in Ireland, so you’ll have to travel by train, regular rental car or accessible taxi. Chauffeurs can provide customized private tours in a ramp-equipped Volkswagen People Carriers; while both Galway and Limerick can be easily accessed by train from Dublin. Another option is to join an accessible group tour. These tours include wheelchair-accessible transportation, lodging, admission to sights and many meals and are a good option for people who want access, but do not want to worry about any details.

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