My Lovely Horse Rescue a galloping success – 10 years on

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

It was founded simply by three friends who shared a mutual love of animals – three stubborn Dublin women who wouldn’t take no for an answer – but 10 years on, My Lovely Horse Rescue is an identifiable household name, and is still rescuing animals.

Sisters Deborah and Martina Kenny from Ballyfermot, along with friend Cathy Davey, a fellow Dub, were appalled at the cruel abandonment and mistreatment of horses across their native county.  

The three joined together, borrowed a horse box and made their first horse rescue a full decade ago. They drew on the support of family and friends, and hence, My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) was born.

Incredibly, despite mammoth veterinary bills, housing and bedding, along with animal feed and care, the animal charity has grown. With the addition of the catteries earlier this week, MLHR now cares for horses, donkeys, pigs, dogs, coats and cats – and indeed, any animal that needs their assistance.

Sisters Deborah and Martina Kenny along with friend Cathy Davey

MLHR now has three dedicated rescue centres, a centre near north Kildare with a pig farm also established about 15 minutes away, on the Kildare/Meath border. A third centre was set up in Cork to meet the growing national demand.

New Cattery

Speaking to the Dublin Gazette, co-founder Deborah Kenny stated the success of MLHR is down to the consistent dedication of their many volunteers who work in administration, management teams, vaccination teams and homing crews.

“Take our new cattery, that’s down to two of our volunteers, Fiona and Anthony, who are facilitating the cattery at their home.

“It officially opened last Sunday. There was such a huge demand for this, from feral cats, and people with cats having unwanted litters. Fiona and Anthony are cat people, and offered the space.

“MLHR fundraised and bought in the catteries; it took a few months, and needed the groundwork done first. We sourced a company which sadly is now closed but they still came up on Sunday last and assembled the units for us. We are so grateful!

“The new catteries are great with lots of space and different heights for the cats to explore. We could house 16 cats but that really is dependent on whether the various litters and individual cats get on with each other.

“There is also an indoor cattery at Fiona’s so more capacity there. But again, we are very lucky with the number of voluntary foster carers that work with MLHR. We simply could not cater for a number of animals, without the volunteers and foster carers.”

Exceptional Volunteers

Deborah noted that the administration crew work from 9am in the morning, taking calls from the website and Facebook page.

“They reply to every message, from 9am till 11/12pm at night, we have an amazing crew, along with foster carers for horses, dog and cats,” she said.

“Dog trainers come down to work with dogs in our care. Liz in Positive Dog Training in Sandyford has been of amazing support to us. We have 60 pigs and horses, some sheep. a goat and horses at Cathy’s farm.

“Currently we are looking after so many horses and goats which are abandoned everywhere, plus dogs. But we have round the clock shift care; there are people who live at the farms so there is onsite care 24/7.”

Deborah estimated that MLHR is currently caring for circa 400 horses, and has rescued in excess of 1,000 horses to date, along with some donkeys.

“That includes foster carers but we pay the animals’ bills and care, from worming to hoof care, feed, etc. But we couldn’t do all this without the foster carers and marvellous volunteers.

“We’ve been so lucky with the good people we’ve met over the years, and many are still with us after 10 years!” noted Cathy.

Funding urgently needed

Obviously fundraising and donations are key to the continued success of MLHR.

“Electric Picnic was one of our big fundraisers but that bit the dust during the pandemic restrictions. We got a grant of €21,000 from the Department of Agriculture last year.

We have applied again this year, it’s a huge application process and takes a few weeks to complete but we are hoping for more this year – €21, 000 doesn’t every cover our hay bill, that’s €80,000 per annum!

“MLHR is the only Dublin animal rescue service which operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We work in tandem with the gardaí every day.

“Hopefully, we will get back out soon for bucket collections on Grafton Street, but donations and monthly subscribers are vital for us to continue. And we so appreciate the generosity of the public.”

One-off donations and monthly subscriptions can be made at

You can also donate €4 by texting MLHR to 50300 or tick on the relevant boxes above and donate to hay and feed or veterinary care!

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