Glendalough is a gorgeous day trip to take from Dublin when the weather is good, or even half way decent. The trek has everything you could want in an Irish adventure; beautiful scenery, sheep, ruins, small towns, and pubs. If you’d like to read more about what you can see at Glendalough have a look at my post here which goes into greater detail. This post is all about wheelchairs in Glendalough.
Q: Is Glendalough wheelchair friendly?
A: That’s complicated, but yes…ish.
Glendalough can be neatly split up into different areas and some of the areas are more accessible than others. Below I’ll go through each area and detail how much you’ll be able to see as a wheelchair user. You can use this to decide if the trip is worth it for you. I had a wonderful time in Glendalough and would encourage everyone to visit no matter their mobility level.
Visitor’s Center and Parking Lot
The visitor’s center and parking lot are both accessible. However, the inside of the visitor’s center is somewhat of a madhouse when a bus full of people arrive as everyone wants to go inside. Other than the toilets the visitor’s center is completely optional and you may even want to skip it to get ahead of the crowd and give yourself more time in the main attraction. The path leading from the visitor’s center to the ruins is paved and there is a small bridge to cross over the stream.
Unfortunately, the ruins and cemetery are completely inaccessible to wheelchair users. There is no paving from the main path to the ruins and the ground is incredibly rocky. Getting up to the cemetery and round tower requires taking a few rather steep steps without any railing to hold on to and once again the ground is uneven and rocky. This is the biggest disappointment of the trip for a wheelchair user. The photo below shows what you will be able to see of the ruins and cemetery from the paved path.
Walk Around the Lakes
The next attraction in Glendalough is the beautiful surrounding. You are in a valley created by glaciers with two gorgeous lakes. After you continue down the path from the ruins just a short way you’re faced with a fork in the path.
The path on the left is deceiving. It looks like it’s a small incline and fully paved. Unfortunately, you find out rather quickly that the pavement ends. Replaced with dirt, mud, and rocks. This path is not accessible.
The path on the right takes you out over marsh on a raised platform. If you’re lucky you’ll also get to be up close with a herd of sheep. This is the path wheelchair users should take. There are a few hills that can be difficult to take on with a manual chair, however.
Both paths take you to a second parking lot which sits right next to the largest and most scenic of the two lakes. Getting onto the shore of the lake is impossible for wheelchair users.
There is much more hiking and adventuring to do in Glendalough, unfortunately, none of it is wheelchair accessible.
Final Thoughts on Wheelchairs in Glendalough
As a wheelchair user who lives in Ireland I would quite happily visit Glendalough on a regular basis. But as someone vacationing here, if I had to pick between Glendalough and a day trip to a town that isn’t Dublin, I would most likely pick that other town. Kilkenny, Cork, and Galway are popular choices. If you have a lot of time in Ireland and you don’t mind the disappointment of not really getting to be amongst the ruins then I encourage you to make the trip out there. It is a wonderful day out despite the limitations. Wheelchairs in Glendalough are possible, but you won’t be able to get the full experience.