Yesterday I took Amelia, her cousin Sean & his mummy to Leahy’s Open Farm in Co.Cork. This farm is so well worth a visit. Situated in East Cork, just 3 miles From the lovely village of Dungourney, bordering Cnoc a Ceo Woods, this family run farm is open to visitors of all ages for the Summer and Christmas seasons. They have a large selection of animals on display – Camel, Monkeys, Rheas, Llama, Alpacas, Snakes, Sheep, Goats, Horses and lots more…. While we were there yesterday,a goat gave birth to twin Kids, and the previous day one of the Alpacas had given birth to a baby boy.
There is so much for the children to do, from feeding the lambs to holding the snake to catching mice and they especially love to cuddle the fluffy rabbits. There is Go Karting and Boat Rides and Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds, Tunnels & be transported by in time, by seeing the old shops,schools, houses & clothes as well as old machinery of bygone years.
The working farm is run by 3 generations of farmers. We met Jack (7) feeding the calves yesterday morning. He had been up working in the farm since 7:30 that morning, by choice.He told us he was on his Easter holidays, and would miss working with his Grandad and Dad when he returned to school, I’ve no doubt they will also miss this hard working boy.A true farmer, witty, clever and a real boy, he showed us all around the farm, introducing us to his own two calves “Johnny & Tommy”, named after his uncles, and that he bought with “his own money”.
I asked him what his plans were for his calves, and straight to the point, Jack looked at me as if to say “obviously”, sell them at the mart. Our day was made by meeting Jack, we spent far longer than we had planned on the farm, as Jack brought us to each individual animal, telling us stories about the breed & the animal itself. We were even invited by him to Mass on the Farm that night. I asked Jack why there was a mass, “well my nan is into God and all that”, was the swift reply I got.
The Open Farm was originally set up by Jacks Grandparents. Eddie and Eileen Leahy married at a young age. They had 7 children and lived in the little old cottage in the centre of the yard which is now known as Farmer Eddies Cottage. The old cottage dates back over 200 years, Eddie and Eileen’s first four children were born into the cottage.
Eddie and Eileen started off their farming life in very humble beginnings with 4 cows. 3 cows were milked in the summer and in the winter, as the stall in the yard could only hold 4 cows. The land was of poor quality and a lot of hard labour had to be endured to reclaim it. As Eddie and Eileen had very little animal housing to begin with every effort was made to expand and very slowly but surely, over the years the farm turned into a very successful Dairy and Pig Farm. While being very busy running the farm, Eddie had a love for vintage farm machinery and he and Eileen often went off to vintage festivals and over the years they picked up a massive collection of vintage machinery.
In 1996 they took a massive leap of faith and opened the farm to the public showing off what they had collected, with family support behind Eddie and Eileen and the huge interest shown by the public, the next step was to build a coffee shop to cater for the visitors, this proved to be a huge success over the years because of Eileen’s absolute love of home-baking. There are no cakes bought in for the coffee shop. Everything is freshly home made every day by Eileen and other family members.s, this proved to be a huge success over the years because of Eileen’s absolute love of home-baking.
Over the years, the farm has grown from strength to strength attracting thousands of visitors and is now a well known tourist attraction in East Cork, because of Eddie and Eileen’s initial idea to diversify into agri-tourism it has enabled some members of the family to work full time in the business. For Eddie and Eileen, this is a great achievement in keeping their family together. All the members of Eddie and Eileen’s family are so proud of the success of the open farm because if it were not for Eddie and Eileen’s commitment and bravery to diversify from farming, the traditional farming enterprise would not have sustained the employment needed to keep the family working together.
We loved every second of our day yesterday & will be back again over the summer. Amelia fell in love with the lambs, calling the, “Baby”. Perfect for all age groups. Also there is so much to see & do indoors that the weather should not tamper your plans. Buggy Friendly, I took the sling as well,so Amelia could see everything. We had tea & a scone after we had finished, clean, reasonably priced, and beautiful homemade produce. Of course Jack joined us for tea. Clean toilets, with baby changing unit.
I would highly recommend a stop at Leahy’s Open Pet Farm as a Family Friendly Activity around Ireland. You might even be lucky enough to meet Jack & get a free guided tour from an expert.
T & A xx