I would have never known about The Donkey Sanctuary had it not been for the helpful advice of Miriam at The Old Bank B&B in Bruff. Miriam arranged for Fergal Somers from Visit Ballyhoura to escort us to the farm in Liscarroll- which gave me a break from driving!
Fergal met me at the B&B with a hearty “Céad mile fáilte!” which, sadly, left me speechless as I wasn't expecting it. I guess I need to work a bit harder on my Irish lessons!
Getting to The Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork
Liscarroll is located in the northwest part of County Cork, nestled between the Ballyhoura and Mullaghareirk Mountains. Though not difficult to find, you will be navigating the type of Irish road I am so fond of- narrow and winding, edged by stone fences and trees.
Visiting the Donkeys
We arrived at the sanctuary in a drizzle, but that didn't stop my girls from jumping out of the car almost before it was stopped as right before us was a large, grassy pen filled with adorable donkeys! The girls rushed to them, ready to give them plenty of love and sweet words.
As the girls petted the friendly donkeys, I was introduced to Paddy Barrett, whose family has a history of rescuing donkeys from abuse and neglect. Since 1987, when Paddy's rescue center for donkeys joined with The Donkey Sanctuary UK, the Ireland sanctuary has rescued over 3600 donkeys and mules. Currently the farm has 614 donkeys with another 400 fostered in 200 homes across Ireland.
Looking at these shaggy, sweet faced creatures, it's difficult to imagine the horrible conditions many of them arrive at the sanctuary in. From starvation and overgrown hooves to skin conditions, the staff of 70 – including a veterinary hospital- welcomes these lovable and often skittish animals with the goal of saving them and giving them happier life.
As we walked around the farm we saw sweet foals alongside their mothers, while others walked in groups or pairs as they made their way to shelter as the rain began to fall.
We, too, made our way inside, to the visitor's center, which was filled with souvenirs and trinket for purchase – with proceeds going to help support The Donkey Sanctuary. I dropped my imposed rule of “no stuffed animals” and let my daughters buy their own cuddly donkeys to take home. We also “adopted” fuzzy faced Ritchie for €20. His picture hangs in our office where we can all see his adorable face. About 2 weeks after we returned home, an “adoption pack” arrived in the mail with Ritchie's history and an adoption certificate.
The Donkey Sanctuary should be on the “to visit” list for a fun family vacation in Ireland's “Sunny Southwest”. You won't forget your time with these incredible animals.
Quick Facts for Visiting The Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys are not available to ride but you can pet them as much as you want!
You can adopt a donkey online, make a donation, or shop in the online gift shop at The Donkey Sanctuary website.
You can also visit The Donkey Sanctuary virtually on Facebook!
The Donkey Sanctuary is a great afternoon outing from Limerick, Killarney or Cork City.
Note: Ireland with Kids thanks Fergal Somers of Ballyhoura Fáilte Ltd for escorting us to The Donkey Sanctuary!