A YOUNG farmer's dream came true yesterday as a €1m open farm was unveiled complete with more than 200 domestic and exotic animals.
Ivan Rumley's open farm at Waterfall in Cork has already created 10 new jobs -- and was hailed by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney as a major boost to the Irish tourism sector.
Rumley's Open Farm -- which is a working beef and sheep operation -- boasts a collection of 200 domestic and wild animals to rival any zoo ranging from raccoons, camels, llamas, alpacas, lemurs, parrots, prairie dogs and even water buffalo.
The facility boasts an incredible collection of birds ranging from snow owls to parrots and budgies -- including some species that are the only ones of their kind in Ireland.
Mr Rumley told the Irish Independent the idea sprang from his observation of people calling to buy organic beef, poultry and vegetables from his farm.
"They would call to buy their meat or eggs -- but they would bring their children along and the youngsters would be absolutely fascinated by the animals on the farm," he said.
It dawned on him that many youngsters raised in urban environ-ments never get to see a working farm or get to see domestic animals up close.
Ivan -- and his partner, Sandie -- are keen animal lovers and also kept exotic animals as pets. The young farmer set about transforming 20 acres of his 100-acre holding into a mixture of open farm and wildlife park.
The €1m development was officially opened yesterday -- complete with cafe, animal trails, children's playground, picnic areas and adventure zone.
Mr Coveney -- who toured the facility -- said it was so impressive it could easily be mistaken for a zoo.
"This is proof positive of the vibrancy and ambition that we have within our agri-food sector. It is proof of what can be achieved with vision and planning," he said.