The Sathya Sai Sanctuary

Nestled in the hills of Sligo, Ireland, is a little piece of donkey heaven. Sathya Sai donkey sanctuary was founded in 1991 to offer a place of refuge to old, neglected, abandoned donkeys from all over Ireland. It is ran by one of the loveliest ladies to ever walk the Earth, who has dedicated her life to helping others, and I cannot praise her enough!

On a recent visit to Ireland, we stocked up on carrots and apples and made our way to the donkey sanctuary, where the herds awaited. First to greet us on the way in was Rufus – a dog who had been abandoned at a petrol station some years ago, and labelled as dangerous for flashing his teeth whenever someone tried to approach him. As it turned out, Rufus was not vicious at all, he was merely smiling. And when we arrived on the land he greeted us with that same gorgeous smile.


In the fields and barns, hundred of donkeys crammed to the gates for strokes and treats. We had nowhere near enough carrots, but we emptied our pockets to Sue so that she could buy more for the rest.

Remarkably, Sue knew every donkey and pony by name. As we walked with her she told us the story of each one we passed – some uplifting, others heartbreaking.

Like the story of Penny and Florrie, who had lived happily at the sanctuary for many years since their rescue and become the best of friends, spending day and night at each others side.

Eventually, old age got the better of Penny and she could no longer get up from her bed in the barn. Florrie stood at the gate for hours, waiting for her friend to emerge, and so Sue lead her into the barn to say goodbye to her companion.

Florrie lay at Penny’s side, their noses pushed together, and they stayed that way all day long. The next morning, when Sue went in to check on the pair, she discovered with a heavy heart that they had both passed away in the night. Two frail old ladies who could not live without one another.

There are so many stories to be told at Sathya Sia Sanctuary, so many personalities to discover and hungry mouths in need of apples. Esmeralda, a little donkey who’s hooves had been grossly over-shortened, and who now walks on tiny stumps, like a ballerina on point, is just one example.

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But there are many more donkeys that need your help, especially over the Winter months when grass is scarce and straw is expensive. If you’re looking for an amazing secret Santa present, then look no further than here! Sue is an incredible woman and she needs all the help we can give her, so please donate or sponsor a donkey this Christmas!

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