The closer we get to St. Patrick’s Day, the more I reminisce about the time I spent living in Dublin, Ireland. In 2008, when I was 19, I spent six months in Dublin as part of my college’s study abroad program. I was young, excited, and completely unprepared for what I was getting myself into! I was both optimistic and naïve about traveling and living in another country and I did not even bother to research power wheelchair accessibility and wheelchair-accessible transportation. Looking back, I can’t believe what a risk I took! In my mind, I believed that there were power wheelchair users across the world, so why wouldn’t the whole world be accessible? Oh boy, did I learn quickly!
Discovering Wheelchair-Accessible Dublin
Thankfully, when I arrived in Dublin, I learned that Dublin is actually very wheelchair accessible. The bus system called Dublin Bus is wheelchair accessible and has space for one wheelchair user on every low floor bus. Plus, 95% of Dublin has curb cuts, making rolling down the sidewalks a breeze. I also found that many businesses have wheelchair accessible entrances. I could shop, dine out and see many attractions without any issues.
While in Dublin, I studied business at Dublin City University. I had a wheelchair-accessible dorm room and found the campus very easy to navigate as a wheelchair user. In my free time, I took the bus downtown and went shopping, had a drink with friends at local pubs, and explored everything that Dublin had to offer. I really loved Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison which is now a museum. I learned a lot about Ireland’s history and Irish revolutionaries while visiting Kilmainham Gaol. The Guinness Storehouse is also a fun place to visit with friends. You can see how Guinness is made, learn the history of Guinness, and even drink a pint!
Exploring Outside Dublin
There are incredible things to see just outside of Dublin, too! For example, I took the train to Drogheda to visit Newgrange. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument that features a grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC. Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids! I also enjoyed a bus tour of the Wicklow Mountains, which are an hour outside of Dublin. The Wicklow Mountains are filled with beautiful animals and Irish history. For example, in Glendalough, there is a 6th century monastery!
I loved my time in Ireland so much that in 2015, I went back and traveled the entire country with my best friend! It was probably the best vacation that we ever took. The history is rich, the people are friendly, and the food is unbeatable! As soon as it’s safe to travel again, I hope to plan another trip to Ireland!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.