Go Walking with an Irish Donkey!
The centre has several small, quiet ponies and donkeys with years of experience negotiating the forest and roads and carrying gear. These safe, gentle mounts are well trained and easy to lead, even for a novice. Packs can be provided to carry a picnic and your camera.
What better way to relax than with fresh air, a bit of exercise, and a pony or donkey to carry your burdens?
Walking with a Donkey Day Trips
Go walking with our friendly donkeys for a great family outing.
Surrounded by miles of quiet country lanes and forest paths, everything from short walks to strenuous full day hikes is possible, all with the company of a kind donkey to carry your gear and a picnic. Slow down and explore the sights and smells of the forest. Go alone or with family or friends. Happiness is walking with a little donkey companion.
A donkey walking day or half day walk can be from ½ km to 25 km. Our well trained donkeys can be handled by anyone, so no need to be a donkey expert to enjoy their company! We'll have the donkey ready when you arrive, pack and all, and give you some instruction on handling your new donkey friend. Take a look at the map with one of our staff members to help you choose a suitable route and point out the hidden gems of the forest and off you go! If you're still a little nervous, we will accompany you for the first part of your walk until you are comfortable to take on your own adventure. Order a delicious picnic basket and leave everything to us, or bring your own and stop under the shade of a tree for a mid-day meal.
Book a half or full day of donkey walking!
Your donkey walking day trip includes:
- A donkey and pack
- Instruction on handling your donkey
- Forest maps
Donkey Walking Day Trip Rates:
Half Day (10 am to 2 pm): €35
Full Day (10 am to 7 pm): €60
Picnic Baskets; Blankets
Let your donkey companion carry a lovely picnic basket filled with delicious, homemade and locally sourced goodies. Each basket is made to order and unique, depending on what's growing in the garden and your requests. Picnic basket samples:
Homemade brown sliced bread
salad from our natural garden
Homemade hummus with lemon and garlic
Locally produced gouda cheese
Homemade fresh scones with home made jam and fresh cream
Homemade berry muffins with a flask of fair trade coffee or tea
Oat cookies for an energy snack
4 bottles of spring water or juice
Homemade cold calzone filled with locally produced feta cheese & home grown spinach seasoned with herbs from the garden
Fresh salad from our own garden with yogurt dressing
Locally produced gouda cheese
Homemade fresh brownies with a flask of fair trade coffee or tea
Small bottles of spring water and/or organic wine
Picnic baskets are only €12.50/adult and €6child!
All About Donkeys
Our donkeys are a family - Geena and John Willy, the mother and father, and their children Hero and Splash. They are small donkeys, trained here at the centre and quiet and safe.
Donkeys are not native to Ireland, arriving relatively recently in the 1600's. The earliest known reference to donkeys in Ireland is from 642, when a single donkey was taken in the capture of Maynooth castle. Many donkeys were brought to Ireland during the Peninsular War, from 1808 to 1814, when there was demand for Irish horses, which the Irish traded for donkeys.
Donkeys were once commonly used throughout the Irish countryside. It is believed that the first use of donkeys in Ireland was by wealthy people who milked them, as it was believed that the milk of a donkey cured tuberculosis and gout and was good for the complexion. Shortly after, they became common throughout the island as people realised how strong and useful they were, ploughing and carrying turf, seaweed, groceries, milk and more on their backs or on heavy carts. For more on the history of the donkey in Ireland visit Donkeys in Ireland and Donkeys at Thistledown.
Donkeys originated in the African Desert and are a descendant of the African Wild Ass. The African Wild Ass is one of the most endangered animals in the world. The Irish Donkey adapted to the colder, damper conditions by growing a thick, long coat, which sheds in the warmer months. They also remained fairly small - typically ranging from 36 inches to 44 inches at the shoulder.
The correct name for a female donkey is jenny and the correct name for a male donkey is jack.
Donkeys are very affectionate animals and enjoy the companionship of people. Donkeys need companions or they will become very depressed.
Donkeys can live for 25-35 years, although it is not unusual for a well kept donkey to live to be 50.
A donkey is stronger than a horse of the same size and can easily carry 30% of their body weight in live load and 20% in dead weight.
Donkeys have an incredible memory - they can recognise areas and other donkeys they were with up to 25 years ago.
Donkeys have a reputation for stubbornness, however, they are not so much stubborn as they have a highly developed sense of self preservation. It is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest or safety.
In the desert environment a donkey is able to hear the call of another donkey 60 miles away, they have far larger ears than horses. Their large ears also help keep them cool.
The donkey is the oldest domesticated animal in the world.
To get our young donkeys started we need some walkers who dare to try them out on the trail. Interested? Although some horse or donkey handling experience helps, it is not a requirement. Test walkers need to be over 18 and able to be assertive, firm and unafraid.
We'll give you clear instructions for handling a young donkey, all the equipment you need, and good maps for a suitable "training" trail.
Give it a try for a fun day to remember! Contact us for more information or to book a test walking day. €20 for the day, includes coffee or tea and a snack.
Want to help donkeys in Ireland? Make a donation to the Donkey Sanctuary!