Newsletter Autumn 2004

As always it has been a busy summer with plenty of visitors to the Sanctuary and some wonderful support and help from unexpected quarters. New arrivals include Gwillan, Toby, Mabel, Maudie, Penny and Phoenix and Gennie.



Gwillan is a tiny pony rig who was relinquished to us from Co. Galway because he was biting and kicking.

A proper castration operation was urgent and we are indebted to the staff and students of the Dublin University Veterinary Hospital who performed the necessary operation and rendered Gwillan increasingly a lovable and gentle pony.

He bonded with Copper, an unlikely match as she is around 17hh and he only 9hh but as far as Gwillian is concerned Copper is his girl! And she makes a good umbrella in wet weather.


Toby is a stunning 11hh gelding relinquished to us from Co. Mayo as his owners were both suffering from ill health and were no longer able to look after him. As he is perfectly healthy he was placed almost immediately into a permanent foster-home where he earns his keep as a companion to another very lonely pony called Sprite. Sprite is undoubtedly the boss though the pair of them indulge in both rough playfights, when Sprite usually ends up chasing Toby around the field, and long, loving, mutual grooming sessions. If one moves, the other follows so despite the apparent ‘pecking’ (kicking?) order both ponies are more than happy.



Dear Mabel is your archetypal old working donkey. About 35 years old, small, dark brown and scruffy-looking, she was the adored companion of her owner who, again through ill health and advancement of years, decided it was time to let Mabel come into Sanctuary where he could still visit her without the worry of looking after her and providing for her future.


Mabel has suffered for many years from respiratory problems, probably due to undiagnosed and chronic pneumonia to which donkeys in Ireland are prone.



She was underweight, not through lack of feeding but a number of probable reasons, the most apparent being that her teeth had worn sharp edges and hooks over the years making eating difficult and painful. After several sessions of gentle rasping (no, it doesn’t hurt!) she now enjoys her food with great gusto!

She is a frail little person but has great character and determination so obviously we will do our best for her for as long as we can. She wears a waterproof jacket at the first sign of rain and soon lets you know if you are late putting in on for her. Despite her problems she is coping well and is undoubtedly an adored favourite with many visitors.



Another old working donkey of 30 years plus, Maudie had not enjoyed the same human love that Mabel had known. She is a big, pale cream mare who was extremely nervous of being handled. Her hooves were a major problem as she had severe ‘white line disease’. This is a bacterial infection which effectively eats away the hoof from the inside out, so Maudie was left with virtually nothing to stand on.

We are indebted to our farrier who patiently cut away all the dead and dying horn, despite Maudie’s objections, and advised us to keep her hooves padded and bandaged on a daily basis, spraying well in between with a searching anti-bacterial spray called Alamycin. Progress is slow but there is definite improvement and Maudie herself is much more sociable and trusting. Her life became complete when Eddie came to stay............



Apparently abandoned on the roadside Eddie was wandering the neighbourhood for several days, being taken in by first one farmer, then another, but consistently breaking out again until it he was a danger to himself and every road user in the district.

On the advice of the Gardai we brought him to the Sanctuary where he settled immediately, bonding with Maudie at first sight. As they came from the same general area it is possible they knew each other: certainly there was a ‘soul’ recognition and the two are inseparable.

Eddie’s hooves were enormously overgrown and twisted with the usual deep abcesses that go with this condition of extreme neglect. One hind foot is so deformed it is doubtful Eddie will ever walk normally.



Penny Biscuit
Penny Biscuit

Eighteen years old, piebald and adorable, Penny joined us because her owner had died and as a chronic laminitic she needed more care than her new owner could supply in a very busy life.

We are always so grateful when people trust us with the care of an older family pet rather than to allow them to deteriorate through a lack of time or facilities. It shows great love and responsibility towards a little animal that has served the family well over the years and we are honoured to be the custodians of such an enchanting creature as Penny.




Phoenix's hooves

Phoenix was a small, elderly, pure white mule who was relinquished to us by local farmer who claims he was dumped on his land. The poor animal was in appalling condition with front hooves so long and curled they were actually growing into the flesh of his pastern joints causing massive abcesses.

Phoenix's curled hooves


X-rays showed extensive damage to the bones of the pastern joint of this foot, together with massive deterioration of the pedal bone due to chronic malformation of the hoof, itself due to either insufficient or inexperienced trimming over the years.


With deep regret there was nothing we could do to help except administer heavy painkillers on a daily basis which would damage both liver and kidneys in a short time. Phoenix was euthanased after a few weeks of good food and loads of affection and is greatly missed.




Dear Foaley was also euthanased when the cancer in her mouth began to impact on her eating and had spread to her nasal passages.

We thank everyone who sponsored Foaley’s ongoing care, visited and loved her during the short time she was with us. She was a deeply affectionate little person loved by all.




Gennie’s owner, at 90 years of age, asked if she could join the other mules and donkeys as she was extremely old and he was afraid she would collapse with him up the field.

Gennie was extremely frail and we did not expect her to last the winter. We were not prepared, however, for such a short sojourn with us, as Gennie died only two weeks after arrival. As a working mule, Gennie had been with her present owner for 34 years







Creatures Walk
Crazy about Creatures walk

We were blessed with a beautiful warm, sunny day for our 4th annual Crazy about Creatures Walk which we share with the Sligo SPCA, and which took place on 4h July at Union Woods, Ballygawley, Co. Sligo. Led as usual by volunteer Phil Conalty (thank you Phil!) the sponsored walk took a 9km circular walk through picturesque scenery ending back at base for refreshments and a prize draw for all participants who had raised over €100 in sponsorship. As it happened this was most people - the response was absolutely terrific! - but the prizewinner was coincidentally and very appropriately, Ann McDaid, the lady who raised the most: over €400 ! What is more, Ann is an unsighted person who relied on her helper and her beautiful guide dog, Ellie, to help her to complete the first 2 km of the walk. Around €3,600 was raised on the day to be shared between both charities and it is with great humility we thank and honour everyone who took part or supported us in any way


We thank Antje, who at 8 months pregnant, organised a colouring competition through the National Schools in Co. Sligo to raise funds to buy our own horse box. The organisation of the competition was enormous, including a complete power point presentation which Antje personally took to all the schools ~ and the response was amazing with many schools subsequently organisng educational visits to the Sanctuary. We particularly wish to thank Woods/Arro Toymaster for sponsoring a brand new bicycle as the first prize in each age category and for the many other businesses who donated prizes for the runners-up. €2,100 euros were raised through the competition, which, with a little help from the Department of Agriculture and Food, purchased a good second-hand Hunter 505 double horse-box.

We also wish to thank The Sligo Weekender and The Sligo Champion newspapers for their coverage of the event and the proprietress of Pepper Alley Restaurant in Sligo town who kindly displayed the first three prize winners of each age group for two weeks. Less than a week after the prizegiving Antje birthed a baby girl called Ciara Brigitte.


We have 4 new designs available at 1 euro each plus post and packing. Once again we thank actor Michael Gough for his delightfully drawn card which has been produced entirely at his own expense with all proceeds going directly to the Sanctuary. These cards are always very popular.

The other 3 designs feature our own animals.


As always the list is too big to include everyone - indeed, many regular helpers wish to remain anonymous - but of those to whom we can say a heartfelt thank you....... to Tom and Mary, Padraic and Maura, Frits and Henny , Liz and Kim, Mandy, Julian and, of course, the very many of you who have donated financially throughout yet another year. Bless you all!


Oliver and Horatio
Oliver and Horatio

Just as we were finalising this newsletter we received a call from the Leitrim County Vet asking if we could take in a elderly pony with only two teeth who had been abandoned in Drumshanbo. And here he is, seen arriving at the Sanctuary, together with our new canine friend, Oliver (we lost both our wonderful Sanctuary dogs, Pagan and Spuddy, during the summer at 14 and 16 years old respectively).

Horatio shows no signs of having been abused so we can only imagine he was cast out because of his age. Oliver, on the other hand, was relinquished to Leitrim Animal Welfare because his present owner couldn’t give him the freedom and exercise he needs.


An enjoyable visit for children with disabilities who really appreciated mixing with and cuddling the donkeys ~ donkeys liked it too!

Outreach visit

St Joseph's Outreach visiting the Sanctuary

Seasons Greetings to one and all!

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