An Irish donkey sanctuary has been forced to cease taking new animals as it has run out of space.

Donkey Sanctuary Ireland in Cork, which opened in the 1980s, currently cares for about 1,700 donkeys and employs more than 90 staff members. 

However, the sanctuary confirmed that seven neglected donkeys who arrived at the shelter last week would be the last because it has reached capacity. 

"It doesn’t mean that we won’t be as busy as ever. It doesn’t mean that we will be shutting our doors," sanctuary director Laura Foster told the Irish Times. 

With space at a premium, the sanctuary began imposing limitations on donkey intake two years ago, only taking the most vulnerable animals, but it has still reached its limit. 

The final seven donkeys were rescued from a property in Galway last week. The sanctuary said it hopes to rehome another eight donkeys who were left behind, while four other animals had to be euthanized. 

Foster explained that donkey popularity rose during the Celtic Tiger but said their popularity has waned since the economic crash in 2008, leaving animals abandoned and neglected throughout the country. 

"When the economy was strong people decided to have donkeys and that popularity waned with the crash. We always say that when humans suffer, animals suffer," Foster said. 

Foster said the sanctuary took in 500 donkeys in 2015 alone. Last year, Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, which is Ireland's largest donkey shelter, responded to 905 calls to help donkeys, rehoming 160 animals. 

Foster called for increased awareness and enforcement of regulations, particularly around donkey breeding. 

"If we don’t see some really strong collaboration and decisive action by everybody in the equestrian system this is not a problem that is going to go away any time soon." 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner in January, Foster said the popularity of Jenny the Donkey in "The Banshees of Inisherin" could lead to "a surge in donkey ownership" in Ireland. 

“I would encourage people who might want a donkey to call us for advice," Foster told the Examiner. "We do have donkeys ready for rehoming but only for the right people."

Foster also invited Farrell to visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Cork, stating that it was "so gratifying" to see donkeys portrayed in a positive light. 

“There has always been a unique connection between Irish people and donkeys but they fall between two stools now. We see a lot of neglect and abandonment, a lot of donkeys who are not cared for properly."

You can support The Donkey Sanctuary in Mallow, County Cork here.