Newsletter Autumn 2018

The lovely summer weather gave us a good opportunity for land maintenance with contractor Dominic Frizzell redoing some of our old fence lines and three strong young men from UK volunteering their time to knock in replacement posts all over the land wherever they found one rotten or suspect. Thanks to Yan, Rob and Josh for their energy! It took a few days to reconnect all the electric lines and nail up the sheep netting but it is a good feeling to know we head into winter with fences in good condition…..never donkey proof but maybe as near as we can get!

We also thank Colm Williams for erecting a big extension to our manure sheds, primarily to ensure we don’t run out of storage space for the manure as we did last winter but with the added benefit of providing extra space for storage of equipment and machinery through the biggest part of the year.

The donkeys were convinced it had been built especially for them of course and took possession at the first opportunity. When they were evicted and replaced by tractors and trailers they were singularly unimpressed though there is little doubt they will find a way to sneak back in at the first sign of bad weather.

Thanks to Yan, Rob and Josh for their energy! It took a few days to reconnect all the electric lines and nail up the sheep netting but it is a good feeling to know we head into winter with fences in good condition…..never donkey proof but maybe as near as we can get!


Our rehoming program has gone very well this summer, probably due in part to the glorious weather which gave people the chance to mend fences, build shelters and properly prepare to take on two animals who have been on the waiting list for some time. As many of you will know already we do not sell or give away our donkeys and ponies but we will, given suitable homes, place them two or more at a time into foster/guardian homes where they can benefit from more attention and stimulation and a great deal less overcrowding.

WILF AND KAYDEE found a lovely home with a family in Ballinamore where they are very settled and happy. These are special little donkeys, both very gentle, friendly, easy to manage and good with children so we are really pleased for them that they have settled in a situation where they are loved to bits and get to enjoy plenty of playtime with the children.

POPPY ROSE (Right: in the middle of a grooming session) and ELLIE moved just down the road to a local farm where their young owner realised a long held ambition to have two donkeys.

As both Poppy Rose and Ellie are pink skinned, and in Ellie’s case, has some weather induced skin problems, we wanted to keep them close to home so we could help if there were any problems.

They are two small, very pretty and easily managed little girls. Sadly as the weather deteriorated mid July and continued to get increasingly damp and cold we were obliged to bring them home again as they were not being given the option of shelter as expected. Everyone tried their best: it just didn’t work out this time.

Left: Ellie
Right: Poppy Rose


We were extremely fortunate to be able to home our three yearling geldings, Dalton, Darius and Domino, together, as they are very bonded with each other and we would have hesitated to separate any one of them from the threesome.

We say a huge thank you to Lisa and Donal who generously embraced them into their growing herd now consisting of their own donkey mare called Doris, and our Anastasia and Luna whom they fostered early this year. They make a colourful little gang, always up to mischief of some sort and very interactive. They are real pets, good with people including children and other animals, though Anastasia is still the boss! No surprises there.

The three boys arrived last Christmas and were gelded at The Donkey Sanctuary hospital in Cork so they were safe to join the mares in Spring.



Above: Dalton
Left: Darius

Far Left: Domino in his winter jacket ,headed home for tea.


Later our two big skewbald mares, Judy and Trudy found their place in Kinlough, Co.Leitrim where they share the farm with two horses and very little else so they have plenty of space to call their own and can do what donkeys do best. . . roam to their heart’s content.

Many people have the idea that donkeys don’t do much except stand around: in fact they are nomadic and curious by nature and love to travel around a big area, investigating everything as they go. These girls are quite independent so we hope they will enjoy their new home.


Annie and Juniper Berry (mother and daughter) moved to a home near Knock in Co. Mayo where they share their space with pedigree sheep. They are a gentle pair, very bonded and although Annie is shy she quickly takes courage from her more confident and affectionate daughter.

Juniper is a skinny little girl so we are hoping she will benefit from the good grass available to them and start to look more like a donkey than a small giraffe.

Annie is a dainty mare, small boned and inclined to anxiety so we hope she will also benefit from a more one on one relationship.

Above: Annie with a baby Juniper and right, Juniper all grown up


Charlie and Sammie, our two elderly statesmen cob ponies, were offered summer grazing just outside Sligo town in a beautiful situation with mature trees for shelter and shade, perfect for two gentlemen with respiratory problems.

They are such an affectionate pair it is no surprise that their benefactors have fallen in love and are loathe to part with them again. So as long as the grass lasts we are happy to leave them with their new fan club where we know they are safe and loved. At 29 and 30 years old the less we need to move them around and stress them, the better, though fortunately they are both laid back characters not given to dramatics.

Right: Joined at the hip!!


Amber and Topaz, two Shetland ponies, again mother and daughter and extremely bonded, are moving o their forever home in October where, provided they can get along with two resident goats, they will have a wonderful home with a young family.

Usually goats and ponies are fine together though obviously care needs to be taken with introductions as a pony’s hooves, whilst potentially damaging, are rarely a match for a wilful horned goat! However, they have plenty of room and their own shelters so we don’t anticipate problems.

Left: Amber


Lastly we were offered a home for two mare donkeys to companion Eppy, a stunning, if portly lady donkey living at a B&B near Drumcliffe in Co. Sligo. Unexpectedly this proved to be our most difficult challenge as of the mares we still had available for rehoming none is of the open, friendly, busy character most likely to settle in a situation with lots of visiting people and children without either taking fright and hiding in the bushes up the field, or vying too jealously with Eppy for attention.

Eppy is a darling, missing only the flowery hat to be the donkey equivalent of the archetypal community organiser, so it is important to find the right ladies to join her group. A possible pair took an immediate decision out of our hands when one of them went lame so all was up in the air again! We contacted the Local Area Welfare Advisor from The Donkey Sanctuary in the hopes they had suitable mares but we do not have a conclusive outcome yet.


We have also had a busy summer with intakes starting with an enormous gentle gelding donkey called Harrison along with his companion, a tiny and very striking skewbald Falabella stallion called Seamus, though many less complimentary names were to be put on him before we managed to get him gelded and taught some manners.

As the saying goes “if you think small is good then you have never been in bed with a mosquito”. . . an appropriate adage for Seamus who took it as his God given right to rule the world and would invest teeth and heels with venom to have his own way. Dear Harrison was terrified of him, desperate for the day when he could be moved to be with the donkeys and enjoy some peaceful companionship without Seamus’ constant hustling.

Right: Harrison
Below: Seamus

Seamus was difficult even to castrate: the first time he became so excited his adrenalin overruled the effect of the sedatives, so we had to re-arrange the operation for another day when fortunately with a contrived calmer atmosphere the deed was done.

It took several weeks for Seamus to quieten down though eventually he met his ‘comeuppance’ when he was put with other ponies who ignored his antics and carelessly hammered him back when he took to kicking and biting. It was comical to watch though a hard lesson for the little man to learn having had life entirely his own way for 6 years.


Seamus’ story has a happy ending as he was chosen to companion a much bigger black and white horse in Germany where his new owner absolutely adores him and plans to put his stunning good looks and spirited nature to winning a few prizes at local shows. He has settled down brilliantly to his new life, so all are happy – especially Harrison, the gentle giant, who has spent a very laid back summer with a small group of donkey geldings.

Harrison has a twisted front foot so that hoof needs a little more attention than usual but is otherwise an easy going, affable boy, loved by everyone.





Blackie Boy and Raisin are also two very big donkeys, especially Blackie Boy, who, true to his name, is almost jet black in his summer coat, awesome at nearly 14hh. He is Dad to Raisin, who is slightly smaller, more nervous and a deep rich mahogany colour.

The pair came to us through a change in family circumstances, with a specific remit to find them another home if possible, which thanks to a contact through HungryHorseOutside with the Scottish Border Donkey Sanctuary in Scotland, came about faster than we expected.

Blackie Boy was in demand to step into the hooves of another big donkey, now 42 years old, who was having to be retired from their Adopt a Donkey Scheme due to his great age and arthritic problems. And Raisin was welcome too!

Anyone wishing to see where these two lucky donkeys will be spending the rest of their days can take a virtual tour of the old estate that is now their home at the Scottish Border Donkey Sanctuary by ‘Google-ing’ the address.


The Donkey Poem by Paula Blanch

Don’t waste your time young lady, she heard the farmer say.
That donkey, well, he’s stupid, they’re all just born that way.
He’s slow to move, can take no load in buggy or in sack,
The only thing he’s good for is a whip across his back.
But the young girl, she knew differently,
She could sense it in her heart,
She would take the donkey home with her
And give him a new start.
So the farmer took her money and handed her the reins,
Good riddance to bad rubbish, mules would always be the same.
Ten years of hurt and ignorance and callous disregard
Would need to be forgiven and left there in the past.
As the young girl walked the donkey home
There was no need for speech.
Their hearts and minds and souls were joined,
The silence had been breached.
For love can work great magic if you give it but a chance,
Stooped heads will rise, old dreams come true
And broken hearts will dance.
This story is no different from many I have heard.
It teaches of the power of touch and gently spoken words.

< /p> The young girl, now a woman, with children of her own,
Still loves this dusty donkey she first brought to her home.
You see the donkey symbolises critters everywhere,
That never get to share their gifts or know their humans care.
Through history their lives have been
All service, toil and scorn,
A million miles of pain laid out
Along the paths they’ve worn.
It doesn’t have to be like that. The answer’s in our hands.
All animals can share the blessings God first gave to man.
Let’s take the time to figure out the debt that they have due,
Each lonely, dusty donkey, with our love, can start anew.



Little Dawn’s story is sadder but again has a happy ending.

After weeks of reports to other animal welfare organisations with no action, Hungry Horse Outside and ourselves finally stepped in.

The team set off before daybreak one morning with two horse trailers in order to round up and move the animals in distress before the owner was out of bed. Unfortunately this man has mental health problems and although banned from keeping animals, consistently collects more.

This time little Dawn was found (named for the time of her rescue) struggling to survive the attentions of eight donkey stallions and two pony stallions.

She must have had an horrendous time as she was bitten and cut all over her neck and rump with several of the wounds infected. She was exhausted, pitifully thin and very weak, yet thankfully views humans as her saviours, remaining throughout quiet, friendly and unusually affectionate, even for a donkey. The stallions were all moved to HHO where they were gelded at the first opportunity and have all been placed in caring homes since. Dawn will remain with us for the foreseeable future as we surmise she is pregnant.

The photos show Dawn above and on the left, our Saturday volunteer, Sasha (with donkey Benny) who has spent much time grooming Dawn and helping her to settle in.

She needed the summer anyway to gain weight and heal both her physical and mental wounds, during which time she has become a firm favourite with visitors who are enthralled by her dark silky coat and gentle nature. She really is a delight.


Maple’s story is also sad in that she was seemingly abandoned in forestry in north Co. Leitrim. There were other ponies with her for a time and local people were kindly leaving water for them during the hot weather of early summer. What they could not know was that Maple was hiding at the other end of the forestry and was in such pain with her feet and legs she was unable to walk the gravel road to get to the water.

By the time our welfare officers reached her she was on her last legs between thirst, malnutrition, constant pain and the extreme heat. With the help of some fairly hefty pain killers she stoically walked the length of the road directly into the horse trailer where she immediately lay down with a huge sigh of relief. Due to her frailty we decided to keep her separated from the other ponies and donkeys until she was stronger so she was popped into a rented field beside Neil and Rebecca’s house where she promptly fell in love with their five pet sheep. She remains shy so the best way to catch her is to call the sheep….and along comes Maple too! She is an old pony but even now a real ‘looker’ with beautiful chestnut and white markings and a pretty head. She has made a marvellous recovery but so far shows no sign of wanting to be with other ponies, preferring to cuddle up with the sheep overnight. So be it.


Meredith and Morgan were with us eight years ago when they were confiscated from a man who is mentally incapable of taking responsibility for animals. They were only babies at the time and in distressingly poor condition but grew up to be magnificent donkeys and were fostered out to Mary and Tom Latchford of Co. Galway where they have lived in the lap of luxury ever since, latterly sharing their home with another donkey gelding the Latchford’s took in, whom they called Juno (on the left making Duncan’s acquaintance). As will happen to us all eventually the time came when a heartbroken Tom and Mary felt they could no longer look after the donkeys properly so they were returned to us, along with a supply of hay, headcollars, ropes, grooming kit, rugs….and a shelf full of home made conserves for the humans. They continue to visit regularly to the mutual enjoyment of both people and donkeys who look forward to their carrots enormously. Juno is finding his independence and making new friends (very noisily!) though Meredith and Morgan remain ‘velcroed’ together, as always.


Wonkey Donkey has come to us for a two year Sabbatical as his owners have to travel abroad for work. Wonkey is an older fellow, supposedly around 35 years, castrated late in life and still living with the belief that he is a full stallion and cock of the roost. It has to be said he showed a remarkable turn of speed more suited to a two year old when presented with two elegant young lady donkeys much to his liking!

He has lived for many years with horses where no doubt he had to assert his authority and carried the habit with him for the first couple of months, systematically picking a fight with any other donkey he thought might usurp his seniority, in particular Denver and Duncan, both only recently gelded.

We solved that problem by separating Duncan to spend the summer with eight other boys in a different part of the Sanctuary. After a few spats Denver and Wonkey sorted their differences and behaved themselves. . . until a lady donkey came on the scene. Finally Wonkey joined Mr McNulty in his gardening and receptionist duties on ‘the long acre’ where he is free to roam between resting fields (with sheds) and through the ‘garden’, tidying up the grass verges, hedges and bushes, greeting visitors as they arrive and pulling timely faces over the fence at his perceived rivals. Definitely a character!


A very special thanks and a great deal of respect go the family of the late Catherine Doyle of Co. Kildare who donated a beautiful granite bench in memory of their beloved lady. Catherine had always wanted to visit the donkeys but sadly was too sick to make the trip before she passed away in 2015.

The bench is situated at the side of the parking lay-by overlooking one of the most imposing views in the area, across a ten acre field full of donkeys and ponies and beyond to the reach of the Ox Mountains, Knock Na Shee, Knocknarea, Sligo Bay with Donegal in the backdrop, Benbulben, Arigna and round to the Curlew Mountains with Lough Arrow nestled in the protection of their magnificence and the Carrowkeel Megalithic site behind.

It is a true and wonderful tribute which will be appreciated by friends and strangers for decades to come. The whole family came over from Carlow and Wicklow to erect the bench which was cleverly designed in pieces to slot together and hold by their own weight.


While the men of the group levelled the ground and mixed concrete for the base, the children enjoyed digging it all out again - keeping an otherwise sombre day as light as it could be in the circumstances. An annual reunion is planned in remembrance and we look forward to meeting this lovely family again in 2019.

Quite apart from the bench many members of the family were extremely generous with donations to the donkeys. All at the Sanctuary are humbled and deeply grateful for so many beautiful gifts, our only regret being that we never met Catherine ourselves.

Thank you to you all.

Many more of you have been unbelievably giving throughout the year and if the donkeys and ponies could thank you themselves it would be a very noisy affair. It is, after all, your generosity that runs the Sanctuary making our work possible. There ought to be a word that says ‘thank you’ in a much bigger way!

NOTICE BOARD - donkey information day

In early August Donkey Sanctuary Welfare Advisor Jane Bruce stood in at the last moment to present our Donkey Information Day Stage 1 ,travelling down at the weekend from near Belfast to help out when her colleague Marie was taken ill. This is an informal gathering aimed at donkey lovers, new donkey owners and aspiring donkey owners who feel they want a bit more specific donkey information before launching themselves into the responsibilities of ‘parenthood’. The day went well, the donkeys behaved perfectly and we all learned something new. Thank you Jane!

We only have a small space in which to work so can only cater for small groups at a time, often an advantage as everyone gets a chance to become involved with the ‘hands-on’ as well as the theory. A day to repeat in 2019?



We are immensely grateful to ALL the people who gave donations and fundraised for us throughout the summer. Special thanks go to Howard and Ann Preston of Ballinfull, Co. Sligo and to Claire Roache and John of Ballinafad, Co. Sligo who opened their gardens to the public during a series of ‘Secret Gardens’ weekends. Both independently raised over €400 leaving our Bank balance healthier by over €800 – a tremendously generous effort which is deeply appreciated for all the hard work and dedication that is required.


Many more of you have been unbelievably giving throughout the year and if the donkeys and ponies could thank you themselves it would be a very noisy affair. It is, after all, your generosity that runs the Sanctuary and makes our work possible. There ought to be a word that says ‘thank you’ in a much bigger way!

Many people deserve a special mention — Eli and Hartmud, a lovely gentleman from the UK who wouldn’t thank me for thanking him, an Irish gentleman who donated his €400 Poker winnings , a neighbour living in the UK but never forgets us. . . and dozens more. You know who you are. . . THANK YOU



It will be a sad day for us when our local Post Office at Ballinafad closes in December. Already it is a round trip of 16kms to buy stamps or weigh a letter or packet but in the future we have to go either to Boyle or Ballymote, both a round trip of 28kms. We ask you all, therefore, to bear with us please if we take a few days longer to send out your Adopt a Donkey Certificates, purchases of Christmas cards and calendars and anything else that requires the services of the Post Offices as it is not viable for us to make a daily trip anymore. We can, of course, always email the Adoption Certificates in PDF format and send on the completed package later for those who need to meet a deadline.

2018 Christmas Cards

We have three new Christmas card designs this year, two photographic and one delightful cartoon drawn and donated by Swiss book illustrator Karin Widmer.

All three cards have the greeting ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ inside.


These cards sell as usual at €1 or £1 each, or we can make up packs of 5 for €4 or £4 to include two of last years’ designs (while stocks last) all with envelopes. The cards are printed on good quality card and measure 6 x 4 inches/ 15 x 10 cms


Our calendar has once again been designed and printed as a gift to the Sanctuary from Martin Pociecha of Sligo Printhouse (Acorn Blue) using some of his own wonderful photographs and some of our own.


We hope you like it and will purchase for family and friends knowing that every cent of its purchase price of €10 or £10 goes directly for the benefit of the animals as Martin has generously absorbed all the overheads.

Printed in colour this unique A4 calendar has a different photograph for every month, many of them taken by Martin himself. Martin is a professional equine photographer, so if you want to see more of his work go to Thank you Martin, SO much!



The long dry and warm summer was certainly welcomed by most, and certainly by the donkeys, after the last 9 month long winter but brings its own problems as we seemed to miss the Spring season altogether, being launched from sleet and snow one week into really high temperatures the next. There was a brief burst of growth before the drought slowed everything down. An unprecedented amount of hay was made here in the West of Ireland though we understand the yield was light, as were both cuts of silage.

Due to the exceptionally prolonged hot weather in the UK there will be little in the way of imports as back up so we do anticipate a fodder shortage in the latter part of the winter which will impact not only on our own animals but on the amount we will be asked to take into care when inevitably some people find themselves unable to sustain non-productive animals like donkeys and ponies. We have bought in as much hay as we can store but along with almost every other farmer in the country we are hoping for a short, mild winter.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and cosy season

Sathya Sai Sanctuary Trust,
Castlebaldwin, Co. Sligo, Ireland F52 H046
Email: Tel: 00353 (0)861031932
Charity No CHY 10840 Registration 20028350
IBAN IE83BOF90528011954931 BIC Code BOFIIE2D

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