By Cate McCurry, PA
Dublin’s live animal crib is to return this year but at its new home in St Stephen’s Green Park.
The Christmas tradition is usually set up outside Mansion House, but it was cancelled earlier this month.
However, following discussions with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the Office of Public Works (OPW) confirmed the move to the Summer House in St Stephen’s Green Park.
The crib will be back on December 8th and will include shelter to a donkey, two sheep, and a goat, gathered around a scene which captures the Nativity story.
The live crib was cancelled by Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, a Green Party member, who said it was “good, but we can do better”, suggesting choirs, games, or a Santa postbox would be more interactive for children.
In a statement, a spokesman for the OPW said animal welfare is “paramount” and the shelter in the Summer House will be installed in line with the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council guidelines.
The department said the animals will be tended to on-site every day by their owner and will return to their farm in Wicklow each afternoon.
Members of the public will not be able to enter the Summer House, but will be able to see the crib from the outside.
Patrick O’Donovan, the minister with responsibility for the OPW, said: “I am delighted that the OPW and IFA were able to find a location so that the live animal crib can return to Dublin for the 27th year in a row to delight children in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“I believe St Stephen’s Green offers an appropriate, sheltered space for the animals and is easily accessible for the public.
“As a parent, I understand how popular this nativity scene with real animals is for thousands of families in and outside the city, and I look forward to its opening on December 8.”
IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “The live animal crib is a central part of the pre-Christmas experience in Dublin.
“It also allows children to see animals in a traditional Nativity scene. The crib also serves to bring rural and urban communities together.”