Child with Suitcase
Child with Suitcase

Traveling in Ireland with Special Needs Kids

Traveling in Ireland with special needs kids just got a whole lot easier with the addition of a sensory room at Dublin Airport as well as special sensory hotel bedrooms in accommodation like the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa in Sligo.

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The airport’s sensory room is geared toward passengers who have autism, dementia, cognitive impairment, and other special needs.

It is located in Terminal 2, close to the security screening area and just before the 400 boarding gates.
Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Photo: Ardfern – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It can also be accessed through Terminal 1.

The room includes several elements that are intended to keep passengers calm in a busy environment like an airport.
Photo: Iryna Khabliuk.

They include relaxing music, mood lighting, bean bags, comfortable seating, digital display panels, tactile panels, textured flooring, as well as memory and motor-enhancing games.

Dublin Airport, has for some time, been considered an autism-friendly facility.

Since 2017, passengers with autism can request a wristband or lanyard that they can wear as they move through the airport.

Known as the Important Flyer Program, such passengers can seek help from airport staff, especially important in areas like security, passport control, or any other part of the airport that attracts large crowds.

The sensory room at Dublin Airport is free to use for 60-minute sessions.

Email [email protected] to make a reservation.

In September 2019, the Sligo Radisson opened the sensory hotel bedroom suite, which includes features like mood lighting, aura protections, massage rollers, and a mobile sensory trolley.

The idea is to offer children and others with disabilities a stress-free stay at the hotel.
The hotel bedroom also includes soft fabrics, ear defenders, and fibrotic lighting that displays a starry night.

Other Hotels Across Ireland that are Special Needs-Friendly

A few other hotels across the country offer similar facilities for those with special needs.

child holding on to a bright column traveling in Ireland with special needs kids
Photo: Andrea Obzerva, Getty Images.

At the Clayton Hotel and Leisure Club as well as in the Yeats Country Hotel, Spa & Leisure Club, both in Sligo, you’ll find open sensory playrooms complete with calming music, moving lights, aromatherapy diffusers, lava lamps, and ball pools.

The Roe Park Resort in Limavady, about 17 miles outside of Derry and not far from the popular tourist attraction, The Giant's Causeway, is also considered autism-friendly.

It currently offers a room that has special lighting, a sensory area, as well as dine-in facilities that are specially equipped for those with special needs.

two children playing in a room traveling to Ireland with special needs kids
Photo: Andrea Obzerova for Getty Images.

The Clonakilty Park Hotel is located in Ireland’s first autism-friendly town.

Clonakilty had to go through a robust accreditation process to gain the special needs status, including training its businesses and voluntary organizations, public service organizations, school communities, healthcare professionals, and others over a three-year period.

The hotel has a special relaxation sensory box and a sensory map. It is also dog-friendly.

Other hotel bedrooms across the country will be available in the near future, which will also be geared toward traveling in Ireland with special needs kids.

They include the Raddison hotels in Athlone, Limerick, and Cork, in addition to the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel, The Hillgrove Hotel, Leisure & Spa in Co. Monaghan, and the Tullamore Court Hotel in Co. Offaly.

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Other Special Needs-Friendly Facilities

Traveling with kids around Ireland, especially those with special needs, can get pretty stressful.

If so, it's always a good idea to stop the car and look for a place where your kids can let off some steam in a safe, appropriate place.
The Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow. Photo courtesy of Sonder for Failte Ireland.

One of those is the Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow, which is not only a great place for kids but also geared toward adults with disabilities.

Described as an “oasis of peace and tranquility,” the gardens include a series of sensory objects that indulge the senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.

Visitors are encouraged to smell the garden's sweet flowers that fill the air and marvel at its beautiful features, including the splashing fountains, cascading waterfalls, and marble sculptures.

The Delta Sensory Gardens is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends including public holidays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is €6 for adults and €5 for seniors. Children are admitted free with an adult.

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