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Concrete Islands

When we were snowed in for a week recently I cleared an area on my concrete yard where I could let my donkeys out when the weather improved. The snow has at last gone but we have had plenty of rain of late. My yard is part concreted and part (supposedly) a hard gravel surface. However like so many Guardian homes I have visited in the last few weeks once you step off the concrete you are into sloppy muck area or worse! The photo shows four donkeys being led around my concrete by participants during my most recent Donkey Care Course (10th March).

From Darkest Peru to Wiltshire

Recently I watched the first of the Paddington Bear movies. It features a young cartoon bear from Peru whose home is destroyed and who subsequently travels to London in search of a new home. Finding himself lost the story ends happily with the bear evading the evil taxidermist and being accepted into the Brown family. Paddington Bear has been around since it was first written in 1958 and the revival of this popular story appeals to children and those like me, not so young, who remember reading it when they were children too.

Harry & Kate arrive at their new home.


Expectations – we all have values, standards, needs and dreams. These lead us to have expectations. The Donkey Sanctuary have expectations when it comes to placing our donkeys in guardian homes. Preparing to rehome two donkeys can for some people involve additional work which varies from basic adaptions to their property to additional construction depending on their existing facilities. The basics include a shed, an area of hardstanding (concrete, stone or other dry surface) a source of clean water and a paddock suitably fenced. An electric fence is also considered a wise investment.

Ruby and Superstar leave The Donkey Sanctuary

Safe from the bush fire

I associate bush fires with places like Australia and they conjure images of kangaroos running from the flames.

Our work brings us into some of the remotes parts of Ireland and when the RTE news carries a headline “Firefighters make major progress over gorse fire” its implications for donkeys was not immediately obvious.

The fire was on a hillside commonage in Co Sligo and very extensive with approximately 4,000 acres affected by the fire.

Donkeys safe and sound

Donkey Care Courses

The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team provide donkey care courses throughout Ireland catering for all abilities, levels of knowledge and interest. On Saturday past eleven enthusiastic individuals gathered in my kitchen to learn more about the wonderful world of donkeys! It became clear to me that there were four distinct groups present:

Group 1 – exuberantly enthusiast persons, keen on learning more about donkeys but had never cared for an animal bigger than a Labrador dog.

The group of donkeys enthusiasts attending the course

Sugar junkie

Erriff is a male model. He is photographed with great regularity. His name is taken from that of the Erriff river which flows over a waterfall called Aashleagh falls. The falls are the centerpiece of a rugged, unspoiled landscape which attracts tourists to its beauty. The river flows into the only true fjord in Ireland, Killary harbour. Fjords are more often associated with Norway where the Vikings come from.

Erriff posing for the camera

Olympic Glory and Fairy Godmothers

Sound travels considerable distance in the still of a summer Sunday afternoon. Massey, Forde, Ruffles, Rory, Ted and Ryan are listening to the sounds of cheering and groans coming from the open window of a house as the various expressions of emotions reveal Ireland’s progress during the Olympics. But these six boys are quite content to be missing the action.

Donkeys Massey, Forde, Ruffles, Ted and Ryan

Under the stars

We are always telling people that donkeys are sociable animals which need company. This was certainly the case for a donkey called Planet. He is a fine healthy young donkey who lived in a big field in Co Roscommon. He lived “under the stars” as he had no shed or stable but he coped with that.

Planet at time of rescue

Hoofprints in time

Phoenix (age 5) and Baxten (age 6) are two ordinary donkeys that came to me a year ago from the Donkey Sanctuary. They are two lively young donkeys with an inquisitive attitude to life. At the weekend they went back 100 years in time to 1916. The occasion was the “Country and Rural Life” re-enactment hosted by Teagasc on their farm in Athenry, Co Galway and over 20,000 people were expected. Three months ago both the donkeys and I were totally unprepared for this journey.

Pheonix and Baxten

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