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Trip Report Availability of Toilets in Ireland

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We’ve just returned from four weeks in Ireland. Prior to our going I had concern about the availability of toilets because of recent prostate surgery. To allay that concern I did some research which yielded the information that one could buy a special key to certain disabled toilets in Ireland. Unfortunately, neither the key maker nor the various Irish organizations supporting the disabled were able to provide me a list of toilets to which such a key would provide entry. Obviously when one uses the term “disabled toilets” one means toilets for the disabled and not ones that don’t work. And, I try to use the politically-correct term of “disabled” as opposed to “handicapped.” (One place we visited in Ireland labeled their disabled toilet “Less-Abled.”) Having had such a key in Australia and using it to great benefit, I was eager to acquire my own for the Republic of Ireland (such a key is not, to my knowledge, available in Northern Ireland). Accordingly I got the name and address of the sole firm in Ireland which controls the making and distribution of the keys and ordered mine (having provided them with the necessary documentation). It was waiting for me at my hotel in Belfast (our first overnight stay on the trip) when we got there.

The key cost me 24 euro which included its making and shipping. I used it exactly once. We were in Youghal in County Cork and the pay toilet on the street seemed to be about the only acceptable place available for me to go (people there might tend to frown on practices common in many countries on the Continent probably because they don’t understand the challenges of the incontinent). Otherwise, in every place we went in both Ireland and Northern Ireland I had no trouble whatever finding toilets which I could use. My most common problem was simply the distance between populated areas. We found that many places had three toilets available: Men, Women, and Disabled. I can recall only one time when the disabled toilet was even in use and it pleases me to report that I never saw anyone abuse the privilege.

In a number of places in smaller towns I simply presented myself at a restaurant or bar, grocery store, or service station and said, “Would you have a toilet I could use, please?” I never once got a scowl, pushback, or a refusal. However, I can tell you that had I been in a wheelchair there were numbers of places which I couldn’t have maneuvered into even though they were marked with a Wheelchair symbol. Access to toilets in Ireland simply did not pose the major problem I had anticipated it would and it is with great relief, literally, that I tell you that.

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