We are delighted to publish and highlight profiles of some of our new members and we hope you enjoy reading their stories and their love of donkeys!
My interest in donkeys goes back to the 1960’s in Co Donegal, where I was brought up, at around 9/10 years of age – the first donkey I ever met was Jack. He belonged to a farmer, in whose home I spent some time during summer holidays. When asked as a new member to the society if I would like to write about my interest in donkeys and where this has stemmed from, it immediately brought me back to that first meeting with Jack. In the photo of Dan and Jack, there is also – a lady called Maureen Evans who designed for my 3rd generation family knitwear business. This photo was part of a ‘photo-shoot’ taken back in the late 60’s.
During those summer holidays Dan would take Jack and his cart to the bog to ‘save’ turf and my siblings and I would go along for the outing, with our packed lunches and bottles of milk. I fell in love with Jack – he was so calm and patient – standing around all day while work was been done in the bog. I have wonderful happy memories of those special, carefree and innocent days. Jack was the highlight of my summer visits to the farm.
In my teens I came to work in Dublin, not much room for donkeys in a large city. However, one day travelling out of Dublin, I spotted a small group grazing near Conyngham Road – I asked the driver to stop the car and ran across the road – all those wonderful childhood memories came flooding back.
Coincidentally around the same time a colleague in my workplace, knowing of my interest in donkeys, produced an article about the Donkey Sanctuary in Cork. That was around 1992 and later that year on a trip to Cork, I called to the Sanctuary. I could not believe my eyes to see so many beautiful donkeys roaming around freely, healthy and so well cared for. I have hardly missed an annual visit to the Sanctuary since.
On special occasions family and friends buy me ‘donkey related’ gifts and my home is full of all sorts of toys and pictures – a few that stand out are a beautiful painting by the Donegal artist Marina Hamilton and ‘Hank, the Singing Donkey’ bought for me by my godson – always makes me smile and the gift of the adoption of Jacksie in Liscarroll for a significant birthday. They all know when the ‘Donkey’ Christmas Card arrives it’s from me!
I am often asked why the interest in donkeys? Firstly I believe within the Equidae Family they are considered the poor relation, secondly I love their calm nature, intelligence and how they connect with humans. When I arrive in Liscarroll or visit any other Sanctuary I get a lovely feeling of being ‘home’, a sense of peace.
Ireland holds the reputation as a nation of world renowned horse breeders and is one of the largest and most successful businesses in our country, which is to be commended. I am also aware of the ill-treatment of donkeys – how they are abandoned when they are of no further use. I hope in some small way my support will ensure that as a nation that we become better educated in learning about these wonderful creatures, so that the children of the future can enjoy time with them as I did in my childhood. I believe when growing up my parents gave me a special gift of loving, respecting and caring for all animals. Meeting Jack, the donkey, certainly added to that gift.
‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated’
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