HUNDREDS of children and adults with special needs have been given the VIP treatment by big-hearted taxi drivers in Dublin city.
The 55th annual Dublin Taxi Driver's Special Children's Outing was an incredible success yesterday.
Drivers donned fancy dress and fastened baloons and flags to their cars as they chauffered their special guests to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Parnell Square, where they were entertained with music from the Garda Band, face-painting and street theatre.
"It's a fantastic day out," said John Walker, who has been chairman of the organising committee for 26 years.
"You see a lot of children here today and to watch them when the disco starts, they're jumping around, dancing and smiling. It's a great morning."
Mr Walker praised the taxi drivers who fundraised for the day.
"We have great support from all the taxi drivers for this," he said.
"They're losing a day's pay for all this, they put a lot into it."
Pictured at The Special Childrens' Taxi Day out at Parnell Sq today were; Taxi driver, Michael O'Brien and family Michaela (10), Majella (11) and wife Diane
Taxi driver Michael O'Brien (42), from Sandyford, made a special effort and donned a cowboy hat to impress his passengers.
"We're representing taxi drivers, there's a few cowboys around Dublin," he joked.
"Every cowboy has to have a dog," he said referring to his white van, which was customised with black spots and ears.
"You can never do enough. To see the smiles on the two guys I picked up this morning was unbelievable, they were absolutely chuffed. That's all the fun of it really."
Inspector Pat Kenny, in charge of the Garda Band, said that it is all about the special boys and girls.
"Look at the kids, the faces on them all, to see them all so happy," he said.
"We've been doing this for the past 15 years and the kids love it."
The Garda Band lead the convoy of taxis down O'Connell Street at noon and the special passengers were driven by taxi to Leopardstown Racecourse, accompanied by a garda escort, where they were entertained for the rest of the evening with a disco and games.
Kathleen O'Rourke, a teacher working with children with special needs at Carmona School in Glenageary, praised the wider significance of the event.
"A day like this, in my experience, I find it to be incredibly therapeutic, even emotional, for the children," she said.
Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh, who attended the event, said she commended the city's taxi drivers.
"It's one of the days you're proud to be a Dub," she said.