6 accessibility friendly days out

Irish National Stud and Gardens, County Kildare

Sensory friendly locations, wheelchair accessibility and outings that cater for those with special needs, here are some of our favourite places that make sure no one gets left out of the fun during a trip to Ireland

1. Titanic Belfast

In a city boasting many accessible attractions, a shining beacon of maritime history stands out from the crowd at Titanic Belfast. Located by the slipways from which the famous liner was launched in 1912, it is consistently recognised as a leader in accessibility standards. Every aspect of the design of this multi-sensory exhibition has been carefully thought out: all circulation spaces and galleries here are fully accessible, while disabled parking, two scenic lifts and ticket desks designed with lowered counters all cater for visitors with disabilities.

Titanic Belfast has been a fantastic experience and a wonderful day out. And with the ethos of constantly striving to improve accessibility it will continue to remain one of Northern Ireland’s leading tourist attractions.

Michael Holden MBE, Tripability

Multi-media guides enhance the overall experience and transcripts can be requested in either Braille or large print. Care and attention has also gone into providing an exceptional experience for visitors with autism. VIP wristbands, ear defenders and a simple step-by-step autism sensory guide aiming to familiarise those on the autistic spectrum ahead of a visit have been deployed at this state-of-the-art museum where the true legend of Titanic is revealed.

2. Powerscourt Estate

Groundbreaking accessibility isn’t something you’d normally expect from an estate with a history dating back 800 years, but at Wicklow’s picturesque Powerscourt House and Gardens you’ll find a wheelchair-friendly attraction providing hi-tech multilingual audio guides and free access for carers. Start proceedings with a spot of lunch at The Avoca Terrace Café and enjoy panoramic views across the wild Wicklow countryside, before exploring secret hollows and wooded valleys along a clearly marked disabled route.

This is paradise. The levels of accessibility are excellent and the beauty spectacular.

Miquel Nonay, wheelchair explorer

Ireland's largest waterfall is also in grounds of the estate, however, it’s a 6km drive away from the house, and the entrance fee is separate to the estate’s gardens. The areas surrounding the waterfall are largely accessible for wheelchairs and it is definitely worth visiting for its natural raw beauty. 

3. Irish National Stud

In a lush pocket of colourful County Kildare in Ireland’s Ancient East lies a tranquil oasis steeped in equine tradition: the Irish National Stud, the place where life begins for many of the world’s best thoroughbreds. Time your visit right, and you could see the newborn foals playing in the fields – up to 250 foals are born here every year (February to March is peak foaling season)! The stud farm and St Fiachra’s Garden are fully accessible, while The Japanese Gardens are partially accessible. The accessible pathways are easy to follow, and can be enjoyed at your own leisure or as part of a guided tour. St Fiachra’s Garden was created to commemorate the patron saint of gardens, and is a fitting tribute of woodland, wetland, waterfalls, lakes and streams.


4. Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Lovers of literature should make a beeline for Seamus Heaney HomePlace, a modern purpose-built arts and literary centre paying homage to one of the world’s most renowned poets. There's a wealth of Heaney memorabilia: personal stories and artefacts, family photographs, video recordings from cultural figures and even the voice of the man himself. 

The HomePlace has facilitated movie days for our Empower autism support group. The welcome we receive at the centre is amazing, with staff assisting with our families' needs in a very inclusive environment.

Marie McCloy, Empower

Follow Heaney’s footsteps in a recreation of the poet’s Dublin study, or enjoy an interactive exhibition revealing the life and work of one of our greatest lyricists. Opened in late 2016, the facility is completely modern and equipped with wheelchair seating in the theatre space, while hearing loops and impaired hearing devices are also available. A quiet room for children with sensory needs is also provided.

5. Delta Sensory Gardens, County Carlow

At County Carlow’s Delta Sensory Gardens you’ll discover 16 interconnecting gardens dedicated to waking every sense: a true oasis of peace and tranquility. Fully wheelchair accessible, this is a sanctuary of water and wild plants. 

It’s a magnificent resource. We feel so fortunate to have unlimited access to this wonderful facility that enhances the quality of the programmes we deliver to our students.

Deirdre Nolan, St Laserian’s Special School

Amidst an array of colours and astounding views, the easily accessible gardens feature cascading waterfalls and splashing fountains and it’s a riot of colour throughout the flowering seasons.


6. West Cork Model Railway Village

Indulge the senses with a trip to the West Cork Model Railway Village in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland’s first autism friendly town. Marvel at delightful hand-painted shop fronts, models and figurines depicting life as it was in the 1940s during the golden age of Clonakilty’s railway past. The indoor interpretive room tells the story of the railway towns and the people who lived and worked on the lines. 


The autism friendly town initiative has been an incredible journey and we want to thank the community of Clonakilty for pulling together to make this a reality.

Adam Harris, ASIAM (Ireland's National Autism Charity & Advocacy Organisation)

Take a tour on the Choo Choo Road Train and soak up the wonderful coastal scenery, then pop into the town of Clonakilty and pay a visit to some of the designated Autism Friendly Champions. The places listed provide sensory activities and dedicated quiet spaces around this vibrant seaside town. You can even base yourself in the Fernhill House Hotel so you can stick around longer.


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