Donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary, Mallow, County Cork
| | | |

Visiting the Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork

At the Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland
One of the best gifts you can give your children is a simple point & shoot camera. This sweet donkey was photographed at the Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork by my (then) 5 year old daughter.
Donkey Sanctuary, nestled in County Cork. The sanctuary is free to visit and a favorite of families. Ireland vacation tips | Ireland travel | Donkey Sanctuary, nestled in County Cork. The sanctuary is free to visit and a favorite of families. Ireland vacation tips | Ireland travel |[/caption]

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

Donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Ireland
When you meet the lovable and adorable donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, County Cork, it's hard to believe they were ever neglected and abused. We fell instantly in love and “adopted” a sweet fuzzy guy named Ritchie. His photo hangs on our wall and we look forward to visiting him -and the rest of the donkeys- again!

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.

At the Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork, Ireland
The girls couldn't pet the donkeys enough!

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.  

Donkeys for Adoption at the Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland
Donkeys for Adoption

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

Momma Donkey And Foal at the Donkey SAnctuary in IrelandThe Donkey Sanctuary is free to visit and is open Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm; Saturdays, Sundays & Bank Holidays 10am-5pm.

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!




Jody Halsted
Follow Along

Similar Posts


  1. Pingback: Best Ireland Souvenirs for Everyone in Your Family
  2. Hello

    I would like to visit, please could you tell me if there is public transport to reach you? I will be on holiday I’m August and would love to visit. I will be staying in Killarney and also Castletownbere area.



    1. Elizabeth – This is not the actual site for The Donkey Sanctuary. Having been there, I can tell you the site is set away from town, though you might be able to get a bus into Liscarroll, you would likely be walking to the sanctuary from there. Please visit the Donkey Sanctuary website for contact information and directions:

  3. Pingback: Tour the West of Ireland from Bruff, County Limerick - Ireland Family Vacations
  4. Pingback: Authentic ireland: Visit the Ballyhoura Region of Counties Limerick and Cork
  5. Pingback: Great for Families: The Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork | Ireland Travel Kit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.