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Donkeys in a class of their own for Clare

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Lifestyle –    Judy Murphy meets a family whose passion for donkeys is helping change attitudes to this former beast of burden

When 29-year-old Clare Heneghan was a child, she asked her parents, JJ and Mary for a pony.

Instead she got a rabbit as they felt it would be easier to care for. She loved that rabbit, but she still pushed for a pony. However, her next animal wasn’t a pony – it was a donkey. 

“Donkeys are easier to handle and they make great pets,” says JJ about their decision.

The 11-year-old may not have wanted a donkey, but Flash’s arrival marked the beginning of a love affair with donkeys that has since led Clare to become an expert in breeding and showing these often maligned creatures.

Anybody who has visions of sad, grey longhaired creatures should cast these aside now, because Clare’s donkeys are glossy, shiny animals, which are lavished with care and attention. They take pride of place in the 75-acre family farm at Knocknagur, Tuam, where they share the land with dry cattle and sheep, as well as three Connemara ponies, which are also highly treasured.

Clare’s donkeys and ponies have rewarded her with trophies, rosettes, clocks and vases from agricultural shows all over Connacht and further afield, which are displayed proudly in the kitchen of the Heneghans’ farmhouse.

Until a decade ago there was no tradition of having donkey classes at agricultural shows. There were classes for horses, ponies, cattle and sheep, and even dogs, but donkeys didn’t feature. The first time Clare saw a donkey class advertised was in the Farmers Journal in 2002 for a show in Lanesboro, Co Longford. She persuaded her parents, JJ and Mary go there and she showed Flash, who was voted Donkey of the Fair.

“She is an unusual colour. Coloured donkeys are very rare. She is lovely and nicely marked, with more grey than white,” explains Clare of her pride and joy. Flash, who at 20 now is the nearest she has to a traditional Irish donkey, with its long grey coat. Most of Clare’s have short glossy coats. “It’s a personal preference,” she says.

After Lanesboro, there was a significant pick-up in the number of agricultural shows with donkey classes, says JJ.

“Once one show does it, they all do; it attracts crowds. Children love them so they are great for families.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Country Living

Bemoaning loss of innocence in a sport driven by big bucks

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Brazil dazzled the world of football in 1970 with their mix of pace, grace and sheer footballing class.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not big into trying to resolve the huge issues of the world like wars, climate change or attempting to dethrone the obnoxious Elon Musks of this world, primarily on the basis that my influence would be akin to a moth trying to stop a herd of charging elephants.

And, I suppose at this stage, I have to accept that it’s far too late to try and call a halt to the World Cup proceedings in Qatar but for the life of me, the event doesn’t even send a sliver of enthusiasm through my nervous system.

Maybe, it’s an old-fashioned streak that’s there inside of me, but the thought of watching World Cup matches in the run-up to Christmas just doesn’t seem right. Okay, so it will be about 30°C in the heart of the Qatar desert but watching a World Cup semi-final in the middle of the Christmas office party is just a stretch too far for me.

Alas, World Cup memories go back a long way with me to a late Sunday in July 1966 when as a ‘small boy’ I was given the job of ‘minding’ the house while the ‘rest of them’ saved a small field of hay a couple of miles away from the house.

Of course, at the time there wasn’t even a faint chance of a black-and-white TV in the house, while visits to any abode that might have a telly, were strictly confined to a Sunday with the stipulation that Galway footballers had to be involved.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Artists in frame for MADRA Auction

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Colm O’Donnellan getting ready for the MADRA auction. PHOTO: JOE O' SHAUGHNESSY.

LIFESTYLE – Finding suitable homes for dogs that have been abandoned, neglected or abused is what drives the staff and volunteers of animal charity, MADRA. Its services are under strain currently, due to an increase in the number of animals being abandoned or given up for adoption, coupled with rising costs and staffing issues. MADRA’s founder Marina Fiddler tells JUDY MURPHY about its work and the importance of its annual arts auction.

Well-known city auctioneer Colm O’Donnellan will be in full flight this Saturday afternoon, using his mellifluous tones to best advantage as he encourages people to flash their cash and buy the goods he’s selling.

But instead of the bricks and mortar that are his normal fare, Colm will be auctioning paintings that local and national artists have donated to the Camus-based dog shelter MADRA – Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue and Adoption. The event will be held at the PorterShed, in the city’s Market Street car-park, and will also be accessible online.

Nationally, those who have donated work for this year’s auction include Kevin Sharkey, Frank O’Sullivan, Paul Crozier, Pádraig McCaul, Jin Yong and Ausrine Kuze.

Here in Galway, Grace Cunningham, Joan Kilfeather, Elena Santos, Rachel Dubber and Aoife Dowd are among the artists who’ve contributed.

Unsurprisingly, many of the pieces have wildlife themes and sometimes these are quirky, as is the case with Lithuanian-born Ausrine Kuze – she and several others have donated more than one piece.

This annual auction is an important event for MADRA, serving as a fundraiser and also helping to raise its profile.

It’s been a busy year for the charity which works to rehouse dogs that have been abandoned, neglected or abused – and there’s no sign that there will be a let-up any time soon, says the group’s founder Marina Fiddler.

As we speak, she’s working to sort out a litter of pups that was left outside Galway Dog Pound. Rather than complaining about this, Marina observes that the person who abandoned those pups didn’t just dump them in the wilds for other animals to eat. By leaving them at the pound, the pups have been given some hope of a future. It’s just one of five litters that MADRA has taken charge of in the past three weeks.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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The construction of a new wheelchair-friendly footbridge by Galway Corporation over the Friar’s River Canal at Newtownsmith on October 20, 1998. It replaced the old temporary bridge that had become dangerous and could not take wheelchairs.

1922

Posting poor returns

Postal rates and telephone charges in Ireland are at the moment probably as high as they are in any country in the world, higher than they are in most.

The penny post has been restored in Great Britain, following the wage cut, which was introduced without any stoppage in the public service.

And the postal facilities in Ireland at the moment are probably worse than in any civilised state in the world. This is not altogether the fault of those who control the post office.

But, while much of this is due to conditions over which postal officials can have no control, a very considerable percentage of it is due to a badly run post office.

There is something very rotten in a service that loses a million a year, and yet gives the public only very indifferent results; for not merely are the Irish people paying abnormal postal and telegraph rates, but they are paying for the deficit in the form of taxation, so that their letters cost them much more than twopence.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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