Dublin’s live animal crib has officially opened at Summer House, St Stephen’s Green, and will now remain open to the public until Thursday 22 December.
Visitors can expect to meet farm animals such as a donkey and goat at the child-friendly event.
Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O’Donovan and Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan officially opened the crib on Thursday morning.
The live animal crib, now a tradition for inhabitants of and visitors to the capital, had faced uncertainty in recent weeks after the Lord Mayor of Dublin opted to exclude it from its former home at the Mansion House.
Following public and political calls for the crib to be given a new home, the St Stephen’s Green location was secured.
Wicklow farmer Fionn Sherlock is carrying on the tradition of his grandfather John and his granduncle Joe Gallagher, who have supplied the animals for the crib since it first began in 1995.
The animals will be tended to onsite every day by Sherlock and will return to their farm in Wicklow each afternoon.
The Summer House is a national historic property in the care of the OPW and is located on the northeastern side of Stephen’s Green.
Members of the public will not be able to enter the Summer House, but will be able to see the live crib from the external protective rails. Animal welfare is paramount and the shelter in the Summer House has been installed in line with the farm animal welfare advisory council’s guidelines.
Dean of Christchurch Rev Dermot Dunne and Father Gary Chamberland from the Notre Dame-Newman Centre performed a blessing on the crib on Thursday morning.
Children from the YMCA crèche on Aungier Street also dressed up as angels and joined in song with the Lucan Gospel Choir.
Minister O’Donovan said: “We were happy to work with the IFA to help find a new home for the crib and to ensure the continuation of this lovely family tradition in our capital city.
“It offers an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the nativity story over the next few weeks and I hope families will come and enjoy this and the other wonderful festive activities organised in the city this winter.”
IFA president Tim Cullinan said the crib “signifies the connection between rural and urban communities”.
“The live animal crib is a gift from the farmers of Ireland to the people of Dublin,” he said.