Newsletter Spring 2000

Sue wirh barrow

The winter work goes on regardless.

Welcome to the first Sanctuary newsletter of the new millenium

The donkeys were unimpressed with all the hype and proved beyond a doubt that, for them at least, life goes on pretty much as usual. The old year took its toll, however. with both personal and donkey bereavements. The winter itself has been considerably easier than the previous year. Autumn was kind with good weather throughout October so it was mid-November before the donkeys were housed on a regular basis and the hard work of looking after them all was once again rewarded by the sound of contented late night munchings coming from the inner sanctum of the big shed and they all snuggle up together, dry and warm while the winter storms raged outside. There's nothing quite like it to a donkey fanatic!

Welfare calls were significantly lower than in previous years, partly due to the kinder climate and plenty of winter feedstuffs and partly to the input of Linda Thompson, the new full-time welfare officer for the north of Eire, employed by The Donkey Sanctuary, Devon. UK and based at Liscarroll, Co. Cork. Linda showed great compassion and courage when she voluntarily took over the running of this Sanctuary for two weeks to allow me to spend time with my mother, Joy. before she died. Since joining The Donkey Sanctuary team Linda has continued to add her support, answering many welfare calls and taking in a very elderly stallion from a couple who had rescued him in dreadful condition but who had inadequate facilities for keeping him themselves. Elliot, as he is called. is too old to be castrated but still too risky to live with our elderly mares, some of whom would not survive a pregnancy, so Linda arranged for him to join the "Old Jacks" section at Liscarroll where he will live out his days in the style of a gentleman.


Hezekiah joined us in February. His history is vague except that he was brought in by another animal rescue centre who's vet diagnosed him as having ringworm. Fortunately the ringworm turned out to be a combination of lice infestation and rain scald which had virtually stripped his spine of hair and left bald patches on his legs and face. His feet were overgrown and neglected but he's mending up fine and promises to be an extremely handsome donkey when his almost black coat recovers its full glory. Although in his late twenties he behaves like a donkey half his age, being very sprightly and characterful and much preferring people company to donkey company. At night he likes to take himself off to the hay barn to snooze peacefully by himself, though often he creeps back in the early hours and is to be found accompanying Flynn in the morning. I think he has worked out that Flynn is first on the feeding rosta! He is an excellent alarm clock, bellowing loud and clear at the first sign of light, demanding breakfast and "look smart about it!".


On February 29th Bonnie joined us, separated from her owner through circumstances beyond their control and it is hard to know who misses who the most. Bonnie is mid-brown with the pale points, tiny, very pretty and with a gentle, retiring nature and a slightly deformed front foot. She loves her grub, being cuddled and especially, being groomed. Unlike Hezekiah who is quite aloof with other donkeys. Bonnie is quietly gregarious. preferring the company of the older mares and Flynn to the rumbustious youngsters (which, incidentally, has more to do with temperament than age). She's a delightful little donkey and we hope she settles in well with us here.



Doris and Atumi fans will be delighted know that they have been fostered out together in a home-to-beat-all-homes where they are treated with the care usually lavished on racehorses and absolutely loved to bits. Atumi is growing fast and is devoted to his Mum who thinks he is the best thing since sliced carrots. Thomason made his own special friend of Joseph, another gelding and they, too, are now in a foster home enjoying the good life.

This donkey has severely overgrown hooves though he is lucky that they have not split or broken off. If you see a donkey with hooves like this please do let us know so we can find a farrier to trim them properly.


The Sanctuary pays tribute to the life of a wonderful lady, Joy Payne, who died in December following a long illness. Joy was "Mum" to everyone, including the donkeys and loved to take her annual holiday here in May or June when she always hoped the weather would be good enough to allow her to groom her favourite long-eared people. Usually it was and Joy would be found in the yard or up the field surrounded by insistent donkeys and a great mound of fur! It usually meant a carrot bribe to distract enough animals to extricate Joy from their midst but she loved every minute of it. Back home in Cornwall, UK, she was an ardent fundraiser and exponent both of the donkeys' qualities and the aims and activities of the Sai Sanctuary and we are greatly indebted to her for her constant and loyal support over the years. It was her wish that there should be no flowers at her funeral but that anyone wishing to give something in her memory should donate to the Sai Sanctuary, The Owl Sanctuary, The Bat Hospital or any other animal charity of their choice. As a result we received just under four hundred pounds from Joy's relatives and many friends, which we aim to put towards the erection of a new shed for housing some of the donkeys during the winter months. The most economical scheme is to add a lean-to at the back of the two-bay hay barn which has the added bonus of cutting down on the barrowing of hay and straw in one direction and manure in the other. An attractive proposition to hard working humans!

long hooves

This donkey has severely overgrown hooves though he is lucky that they have not split or broken off. If you see a donkey with hooves like this please do let us know so we can find a farrier to trim them properly.




It was strange that only a few days after Joy died, her favourite donkey, Isaac. also died. Isaac suffered a sudden and totally unexpected stroke, losing his coordination and sense of direction. The following morning he was unable to stand unaided and we knew it was time to say goodbye to another dear friend. I like to think he went along to keep Joy company. He is greatly missed for his gentle nature and his habit of welcoming and looking after the new arrivals, which earned him the nick-name of "Uncle Isaac".

Earlier, in October, we lost little Kells, an elderly black mare who was relinquished at the end of the previous winter by a well wisher who had rescued her from a lifetime of hardship. Kells improved enormously, growing a shiny new coat and giving us hope that she would enjoy a long and lazy retirement. but ultimately she "took to her bed", dying quietly in her stable a few days later of chronic heart failure. We are happy that at least her last six months were comfortable: although always shy and retiring she enjoyed her share of tender loving care, good food. a warm stable and the company of her own kind. We hope it compensated a little for the years of abuse she suffered .


eating roses

Smelling the roses!


The donkeys currently at the Sai Sanctuary are: Luke, Morestina, Solomon, Neddy Flat Tyres, Ashtar. Benny, Tessa, Joshua, Tommi, Flynn, Meggie, Cassie, Nellie, Hezekiah, Bonnie and our little mule, Robbie, sixteen in all. It is fascinating to watch their particular friendships develop and to note that wherever they get to during the day. at night they always pair up again with their special friend and lie close together in the stable. We still have the pet sheep and though some of them are elderly now they are currently in good health and as affectionate as ever.

One of the Aylesbury drakes, Galahad, also passed on in the autumn leaving a very lonely Lancelot until two more drakes were donated (thank you Achim) to keep him company. Percival is a splendid big Aylesbury and Merlin a decorative piebald. Feathers flew for the first few hours after their initial introduction but by the second night they'd become friends and the three are now inseparable making a decorative and amusing addition to the farmyard scene. The two dogs, Spuddy and Pagan are fit and full of life though Pagan recently underwent major abdominal surgery to remove a non-malignant growth from the perineum which was pressing on the bowel with inevitable consequences. He behaved admirably and has recovered completely. The little cat. Button, continues to delight visitors with her antics and is devoted to the dogs. Charlie and Sammie, the two ponies, are enjoying the company of our neighbour's four ponies and we are indebted to the Hannon family for the continued grazing facility.


On the subject of thanks a special word should be said for Tessa and Nina, sisters of eight and four years old, who have consistently saved their pocket-money and donated six pounds to the donkeys. A grand effort! And, of course, we add our usual thanks to the many friends and neighbours who have helped in so many ways from shovelling manure, to lending horse trailers, to landing at unsociable hours to assist with a sick donkey, selling Christmas cards... and so on......the Sanctuary could not manage without you. Special thanks go to Emma and Eleanor who liaised with Linda to look after the Sanctuary during the difficult time preceding Joy's passing. Obviously when involved with animals it is not possible to take compassionate leave without making arrangements and for these people to give freely of their time and energies at very short notice says much for the quality of their friendship and dedication.

Following a very wet and windy spring we all hope for a long, warm and DRY summer. If you are able to visit the donkeys please remember that it is a small concern and so is not always staffed. However, please feel welcome. We are right beside the Carrowkeel Megalithic Sites at Castlebaldwin. Co Sligo, so are very easy to find.

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