About Special Olympics Ireland

Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport. Special Olympics changes lives. Through sport, athletes develop both physically and emotionally, they make new friends, realise their dreams, and know they can fit in. Special Olympics Ireland enables our athletes to achieve and win not only in sport but in life too.  

Special Olympics Ireland currently has almost 8,872 registered athletes participating in 14 sports in 352 affiliated groups throughout the island of Ireland.  These athletes are supported by their families and a team of 25,000 volunteers who give of their time to help out at sporting and fundraising events. 

Our Mission

The mission of Special Olympics Ireland is "to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with an intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."

Our Vision

Our vision is to build the programme offered by Special Olympics Ireland so that every person with a learning disability has the opportunity, in their local community, to participate in high quality sport and development activities that bring life-changing experiences of increased skills, self-confidence and joy. 

Athlete Oath

"Let me win but if i cannot win let me be brave in the attempt"


The SOPHIE Project (Special Olympics Programmes Health Impact Evaluation) was led by DCU’s School of Nursing and Human Sciences in collaboration with the School of Health and Human Performance, DCU, the University of York, and the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast.
The aim of the research was to explore whether people with intellectual disabilities (ID) who took part in Special Olympics (SO) programmes are healthier and happier than people with ID who do not take part.