We are going to Ireland in August and my 80 year old mother would like to visit the Aran Islands. My mother can walk with a cane for short distances, but we are also bringing along a wheelchair. Any thoughts if this seems like a sight we can visit with my mom?
The Aran Islands are not people friendly as far as a wheelchair goes. Just barely a two lane road at times and not paved. They have tour vans which would work for you but otherwise it would be very difficult to walk with just a cane or using a wheelchair.
Julie makes a good point. You can hire a taxi or a jaunting cart to take you around Inishmore, the largest of the three islands, and maybe on Inisheer and Inishman as well. Getting to the islands from Doolin may present more of a challenge, however. The ferry departing from there is rather small and calls for passengers to lower themselves (climb) down five or six feet to the boat from the dock. Most - if not all - passengers also sit or stand on the deck. A larger ferry departs from Rossaveel - west of Galway Town - and is not only much easier to board, but has indoor seating and a small snack and beverage service. That may be your better option.
I also would recommend a trip from Galway to Inishmore, where there are van tours waiting for the arriving ferries, so a look-see there would be easily do-able. The major site of the island is the stone fortress of Dun Aenghus, not be possible to visit with a wheelchair, but I think a day's excursion would still be well worthwhile.
I believe the other option for travel to the Aran Islands is by air. If that visit is something your mother really wants to do, it might be worth investigating how accessible the planes are.
On a trip to Alaska, my frail elderly mother really wanted to do a sea plane trip to a glacier. I was amazed at how good the people on the very small airplane were at accommodating her needs.
Air travel is very weather dependent. When we were there last year planes weren't flying because of the rain. The ferry from Rossavael would be accessible, as would the van tours. She would not be able to make the walk to Dun Aengus.
As Kathy stated the ferry from Rossavael is accessible and so are the van tours on the island. You can catch a bus from Galway to Rossavael which will drop you directly at the dock to catch the ferry to Inishmore. Dun Aengus is not something she would be able to do because it involves mild hiking to the top and is quite a trek from where the vans let you out.