If you are thinking about a break away you have got to check out Irish Wheelchair Association’s holiday service which offer accessible accommodation, organised trips and PA support, if needed, in three locations across Ireland.

On a recent visit to the stunning Shearwater Hotel in Ballinsaloe, Co Galway, we caught up with member Annie Byrne and her boyfriend Jonathan Hanna who were in the middle of their holiday and absolutely loving every minute of it.

IWA member Annie Byrne from Dublin and her partner Jonathan

“I really like the Shearwater. The facilities are fantastic, and everyone is so helpful and accommodating.  Both the IWA staff and the hotel staff are lovely,” she said.

After enjoying breakfast in bed, she and Jonathan were looking forward to the day ahead.  Having an IWA PA in the hotel, she says, makes for a much more enjoyable holiday, free from any worries.

The Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe, Co Galway

Jonathan agrees, adding: “I’m Annie’s partner, I have my clear role.  I will make her comfortable, but I am not a PA.”

The couple are so taken with the Shearwater Hotel and the IWA service provided that they’ve lost count already of the number of times they’ve holidayed there and are already planning their next trip!

They travelled down by train and were collected at the station by IWA staff, who they described as ‘so supportive’.

“I would really encourage members who haven’t holidayed here to try it,” said Annie.

“You feel like anyone else on holiday.”

The Swimming Pool in the Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe, Co Galway

IWA offers a choice of three locations, the other two being the Hoban Hotel in Kilkenny and the Carmel Fallon centre in Dublin

Probably one of the best parts about choosing IWA Holiday Services is that you get to enjoy yourself while IWA looks after the rest, if that is what you want.

The association started the service many years ago because people with physical disabilities simply could not take a holiday due to inaccessible environments, accommodation and transport and did not have access to personal assistants for daily living while on holidays.

During the holidays IWA’s skilled staff are in the premises to support customer’s daily living needs and bedrooms are equipped with accessibility in mind including hoists, as and when required, and tailored to individual mobility requirements to ensure that you can enjoy your holiday.

As part of your break, you can take part in a holiday itinerary arranged by IWA which can include anything from shopping trips to bowling, or organise your own days out to local attractions. It’s your choice.

Maria Walsh from Carlow went on her first IWA holiday to the Hoban Hotel in Kilkenny in 2022, returned last year and is heading back again so you could say she is well impressed!

Maria Walsh

“I just have a great time,” she said.  “The first time I was going I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect but it was so enjoyable.  I found it very relaxing and loved that the IWA organise trips for you based on where you want to go and want to do.”

For any members reading this who hasn’t taken the plunge Maria advice is to give it a go.

“Try it out.  It’s so enjoyable and having the support there means you can really relax. It’s nice to be able to take a break like everyone else.”

IWA members enjoying themselves on a day trip whilst staying at the Shearwater Hotel
Guests in the Shearwater pictured with IWA staff before heading on a trip to the Cinema
Having refreshments in a Galway pub whilst on a day trip from the Shearwater Hotel

For further information and to apply, visit our website on https://www.iwa.ie/services/holidays/