I first heard about the Donegal Donkey Sanctuary about 6 months ago. I constantly made plans to visit, but these plans didn’t materialise until last weekend. A few friends and I (plus two of the cutest kids you’ll ever see) went on Sunday and had a really great time. We just wanted to see some cute donkeys, but we learnt a lot about their plight and the amazing work the volunteers at the Sanctuary do every day to keep the donkeys safe and happy.
We arrived at around 2pm and walked over to the donkeys, who came up to us straight away. They’re such lovely gentle creatures with the softest hair and they’re so badly treated in so many countries. Many of the donkeys taken in by founders Danny and Sandra Curran have suffered years of abuse and neglect and were abandoned at the sides of roads or woods, and some have been taken in from people who no longer have the money to care for them.
The fantastic, kind-hearted Currans took in their first donkey after a phone call from a family friend informed them of a starving, dehydrated donkey tied to a scrapped car in a bog. After that, many more donkeys came into their care from a number of different places.
The sanctuary has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and now has a new stable block, large barn, tea room and gift shop. However, these additions have cost a lot of money. As Danny himself has said, they get very little money from the government to help ease the massive financial burden. They rely almost entirely on the generosity of others.
The sanctuary is a fantastic place for kids to see animals they wouldn’t normally see and get them used to interacting with animals. Sanctuaries are a much better option than places like zoos where animals are kept behind bars in tiny enclosures for the rest of their lives, or worse, circuses that use and abuse animals for entertainment. A sanctuary is the ideal place for kids to see animals living their lives in peace.
It’s great for animal-loving adults too though! I loved walking around at my leisure seeing the donkeys and petting them. They’re complete sweetie pies, though one of the donkeys tried to take a nibble at my jacket while I was petting him. I had no idea my clothes were so delicious!
If you love animals, please support this wonderful sanctuary in any way you can. Go up and visit, drop a euro or two into the donations boxes, take a few pictures, bring a thermos of soup and have a lovely Sunday to yourself. Top tip: bring a coat as the days are getting colder and you’ll be outside quite a bit!
There are a few different ways you can help the sanctuary house and feed the donkeys, particularly during the winter months:
Have a birthday party at the sanctuary
A really great way you could help the donkeys while saving a lot of money is to have your child’s birthday party at the sanctuary. There are four or five tables in the gift shop that would be ideal for party food and parents of the kids can donate money in lieu of presents for your little one. Or they can buy some of the donkey themed gifts from the gift shop as all the money goes towards caring for the donkeys. Admission to the sanctuary is FREE so you’re saving way more money than you would if you went anywhere else AND you’d be doing good.
The sancutary is always in need of volunteers for several duties like working with the donkeys, mucking out stables, brushing and grooming, helping in the gift/coffee shop, administrative duties, website maintenance, grass cutting, fencing etc. Give the sanctuary a call or an email if interested!
You can do this in a few ways: Give money directly to the sanctuary, organise your own fundraising event in aid of the sanctuary, or buy bales of hay in lieu of traditional presents. For example, you can buy 1 bale of hay for €5, 2 for €10 and so on. You’ll also get a voucher to give to your loved one so they know you’ve donated money to the donkeys in lieu of their gift.
Adopt a donkey
You can “adopt” a donkey at the sanctuary for €25 per year. You will receive an adoption pack which contains an adoption certificate, a photograph of your donkey, a fridge magnet and a letter outlining the donkey’s life story to date. You can visit your adopted donkey or donkeys as often as you like at the sanctuary.
These make a fantastic gift for an animal loving friend or a birthday or Christmas present!
Make a purchase on their online shop
There are plenty of lovely gifts on the sanctuary’s online shop, including coasters, mugs and magnets with the faces of the very donkeys you’d be supporting.
It hurts my heart to know that donkeys just like the ones I spent time with are hit and starved and over-worked to the point of exhaustion and death in places all over the world. They are trusting, docile, beautiful creatures who deserve to live peaceful lives. Do yourself a favour and head up to the sanctuary some day and spend some time with them. It’ll do your soul good!
If you’re trying to find the sanctuary, it’s located halfway between Letterkenny and Lifford, and if you aren’t paying attention you’ll definitely miss the little brown sign indicating the turn-off, so keep your eyes peeled!
Have you been to the sanctuary? Let me know what you thought in the comments!