Neglected donkeys are rescued and cared for at Liscarroll near Mallow, County Cork.

The donkey and cart was once a familiar sight in rural Ireland. Today, other transport modes have replaced the donkey, but the animal is still widely kept in Ireland.

The Barrett family have had donkeys on their farm at Liscarroll near Mallow since the 1920s. In 1987 Paddy Barrett opened a refuge for donkeys here. It is affiliated with The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, which was founded by Doctor Elisabeth Svendsen MBE in 1969.

At present sixty donkeys live in the peaceful surroundings of rural Liscarroll, and two hundred and ninety more are on an adjacent site called Hannigan's farm.

The Donkey Sanctuary works with the Gardaí, the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the public in rescuing animals who are abandoned or neglected. To date they have found new homes for 520 donkeys in total. These are fostered out in pairs, with the requirements being,

An acre of ground, well-fenced, with a shed they can walk in and out of, summertime and wintertime.

The sanctuary also has four adoption donkeys, who reside full time in Liscarroll, and can be adopted by members of the public for a donation of fifteen euro per year. All funds raised go towards the welfare of all donkeys in the care of the sanctuary.

A donkey's hooves grow continuously, and many of the animals brought in to The Donkey Sanctuary require a visit from the vet and the farrier as their hooves have become overgrown.

Bessie Bray is one rescue donkey whose hooves were in such a poor state when she arrived at Liscarroll, that x-rays were required to fully assess her condition. Following treatment by the farrier she is much improved, says veterinary nurse Helen Barrett,

The job he's done is superb, comparing to the way she was.

Thankfully the story of Bessie Bray has a happy ending,

She'll live out the rest of her days in comfort.

A 'Nationwide' report broadcast on 3 June 2002. The reporter is Helen McInerney.