This page is the result of a one-week-stay in Galway in March 1999. This was my first visit both to Ireland and Galway. Therefore, please don't expect the information presented here to be 100% complete. Preferably such information should be collected and published by locals, but as long as this is not the case, the info contained on this page should be helpful at least to the disabled tourist. It sure would have saved me quite a bit of precious vacation time, had such a page existed beforehand.
Please let me know, if you have any comments, additions or suggestions!
location of disabled parking and restrooms
Click on map  for enlarged version
Locations of Accessible Restrooms
(remember to get/bring your RADAR key)
  • Eyre Square Shopping Centre
  • Eyre Square public toilets (probably messy, not sure whether RADAR key is needed)
  • Jury's Inn hotel lobby, Quay Street
  • King's Head pub, High Street (ramp at backside entrance, Middle Street)
  • Conlon's Fish & Chips restaurant, Eglinton Street
  • Beach Promenade, Salthill (RADAR key)
  • Leisureland Salthill, lobby, Upper Salthill Road
  • Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road
  • Supermacs Restaurant, Eyre Square
  • City Hall, College Road
City Streets and Places

Galway isn't exactly an easy city for wheelchair users to get around. The most annoying problem is the widespread absence of lowered curbs. If you, accidentally, find one on your side of the street, chances it's missing on the opposite side are close to 100%! Moving around in Galway with a manual wheelchair therefore resembles a slalom between sky-high sidewalks and congested streets, in the midst of double-parked cars, potholes and building-site fences. Galway is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in Europe, so there's plenty of building sites and roadworks around. Anything you don't want in your way -- believe me, it's going to be there!

So you might  say "well, I'll just take my car to get me where I want!" Which gives me the opportunity to confront you with the other 500 problems: Forget using your car within Galway's inner city. Your car might have taken you from Germany to Galway, but it's not going to take you from one side of Eyre Square to the opposite one. O.K. it's going to take you there, but these 150 m  will cost you half an hour and you won't find a space to park in, anyway! And if you frustratedly return to your old parking space, that one will be gone as well and you'll be forced to drive through the city for at least another 5 hours, until you are so fed up that you either park your car in Clifden (only 76 km away), travel back to your home country, or drive your car into one of these overpriced car parks! The latter option is to be preferred, not only because it allows you to stay in Galway, but also because it very effectively prevents you from driving home drunk after hitting the pubs.  This is due to the car park's closing at 8.00 PM in the evening, thereby locking your car away from you for the rest of the night! Be sure to visit a bank machine and take your heart pills before bailing out your vehicle on the following morning...

One truly positive aspect which can be mentioned is the closeness of everything. While the inner city isn't exactly a model for accessibility, at least the distances are quite manageable. It is a bit hilly there, but nothing really impossible. Once you've found a space to park your car (congratulations!), it's both possible and advisable to leave it there as long as you are in the city centre. The above map shows the disabled parking bays I discovered during my stay. I found Irish motorists to be very tolerant and polite towards my erratic slalom between the sidewalk mountains. They expect chaotic things to happen on their streets anyway, so you perfectly fit in there! :-)

If you're looking for a truly accessible place, head for the beach promenade at Salthill. Ample parking opportunities, fresh air,  flat and paved surfaces, accessible restrooms nearby and, above all, beautiful scenery (and people) to look at! 

Access to Buildings,  Facilities and Services

General acess to buildings isn't that bad at all, considering that Galway has little more than 60,000 inhabitants, which makes it, for German relations, a rather tiny city. Many of the newly erected buildings are 100 % accessible, including all of Galway's major shopping centers. Eyre Square Centre is particularly nice and worth a visit due to its tasteful architecture. In contrast to Germany, where ground floors are traditionally raised almost half a level, ground floors in Ireland often have few, or no steps at all. 
Contrarily to this and most unfortunately for the disabled visitor, the city's Tourist Office at Victoria Place has an annoyingly large step in front of its entrance. I still recommend taking a look inside, because they have a large selection of brochures and can help you in finding out about accessible places and activities. 

Public Transportation is completely inaccessible, but you will have your  car with you anyway, or you won't be in Ireland in the first place. Again, there is no rental car service that's got hand-controlled cars anywhere in Ireland. Wheelchair users from overseas could fly into the UK, rent a car there and take it to Ireland. They should send the ferry ticket bill to the Irish Government for failing to ensure decent access to its country.

There is one fully accessible pub I went to, the King's Head. There's a ramp at its backside entrace on Middle Street and accessible restrooms inside. Live Jazz on Sundays between 12.00 and 15.00 is highly recommended there. The Jury's Inn also has a pub which can be accessed free of stairs and that's just one door away from the accessible restrooms in the Hotel's lobby.

The Salthill Leisureland public indoor swimmingpool is also said to be accessible to the extent that it has disabled restrooms both in its lobby and within the swimmingpool area.

For convenient shopping of larger quantities, the Galway Shopping Centre on Headford Road (ca. 2.5km north of the city centre) might be the best choice as there's plenty of reserved parking right at its main entrance.

  • Galway Guide. Has much information, most notably a pub and restaurant guide, but lacks any wheelchair information whatsoever. Still a valuable source of information
  • Galway-Tourism -- seems to have quite comprehensive information, but terribly slow site


O.K., now things are getting really difficult! The good news first: There's several places offering
 wheelchair accessible rooms to stay in. The bad news: It's going to cost you a fortune, and there's
 not a whole lot you can do about it. Very disappointingly, not a single one of Galway's several
 hundred bed & breakfasts has accessible rooms. Which means you'll have to get yourself a hotel
 room and expect to pay at least 45 quid per night. 

Unless you like loud and entirely uncomfortable places. In that case, the Great Western House Hostel  could be the right place for you. Actually, they do have a fully accessible bathroom and another hardly accessible toilet on their first and second floors. A dorm bed costs 8.50, and they also have single/double rooms. I paid 20 pounds for a single room, but I deeply regret it, even though the room wasn't that bad, except for the missing bed lights and the fact that they turn off the radiators at night (in March!). The wheelchair bathroom is used by all other kinds of people, because it's the only one on that floor that has hot water throughout the day. When I first checked it out, it was a complete mess.  

Wheelchair accessible rooms are available at the Jury's Inn. They run at 50 pounds per room, breakfast not included. If you are traveling with up to three people, this is probably the best offer you can get (they actually call it "budget accommodation"...very funny) Excellent location on the River Corrib,  between the city center, the pub quarter and the beach. Due to a screw-up at their reservation-desk, I had to stay in one of their standard rooms (free of charge..once again, the legal education came in handy...). The bathroom was usable except for the bathtub.  That one also would have been accessible with a shower board or similar equipment. The indoor car park next to the hotel is accessible, but there is no accessible connection between the hotel and the car park -- a fine example for outrageous architectural stupidity. 

According to the "Accessible Holidays Guide", the Hotel Ibis Galway has five accessible double bedrooms, which cost between 39.50 and 49.50 per room. I've stayed at Ibis hotels myself without having any access problems and know of other disabled travellers who also were quite satisfied. The hotel, however,  is situated a bit outside of town on Headford Road, close to the Galway Shopping Centre. Tel. (091) 757975

Further outside of Galway, in Moycullen (Clifden Road, 16km from Galway), there are a couple of accessible rooms at the Cloonnabinnia House Hotel . My ensuite room was a bit narrow around the beds, but had a very spacious bathroom. The bathtub was made accessible with a bathtub seat -- worked very well, much better than one of those mini-sized foldable shower seats in wheel-in showers. I paid 50 quid which included breakfast and service charge. Beautiful countryside location on the border of Connemara. If you'd like to buy a cottage in that region and are looking for a partner, drop me a line!


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This page last updated on Feb 29 2000
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