When Samantha Met Timmy: A Warm Story from The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll

By Judy Enright
Special to the BIR

In this season of giving, I like to mention one of my favorite Irish charities, The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Mallow, Co. Cork, and the wonderful work they do there.
Several years ago, I revisited the Sanctuary and “adopted” one of their special donkeys, Lorcan, for my grandson, who lives in Pittsburgh. The adoption fee was 20 euro for the year and my grandson received details about Lorcan and why he was at the Sanctuary as well as a drawing, an adoption certificate, and a twice-yearly report. An adopted donkey might sound like kind of an odd gift for a young child, but I thought it might whet his interest in animals and animal welfare.
Recently, the autumn 2010 newsletter arrived from the Sanctuary. In it, Paddy Barrett, public relations manager, described the visit of a young cancer survivor from Edgartown -- Samantha Cassidy -- who went to meet her adopted donkey, Timmy, last July with her family through the auspices of “Make a Wish Foundation.”
Paddy writes, “It was Samantha’s wish to visit her adopted donkey, Timmy, at The Donkey Sanctuary. Her sister, Anna, had adopted Timmy for Samantha when on holidays with her school in Ireland in summer 2009. “Many helped out to make it a very special day for Samantha. Eugene gave Samantha a spin around Hannigan’s Farm with the buggy pulled by a donkey named Moses. Helen gave Samantha the history of Timmy from his birth, when he was rejected by his mother, and how she bottle-fed him. Noel presented Samantha with a photograph of her and Timmy and I presented her with a certificate of her visit.
“As Samantha’s father, Michael, summed it up with tears in his eyes, ‘there are days for ups and days for downs. Today is a day for ups.’ ”
In September, Gwyn McAllister had written in The Martha’s Vineyard Times that during Samantha’s illness and chemotherapy treatments at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber in Boston, she “was kept posted on her 19-year-old donkey's progress through periodic e-mails. At one point, after receiving an update, she said to her mother, ‘I wonder if I'll ever get the chance to meet Timmy.’
“The trip to Ireland, which included stops in Blarney, Killarney, and Limerick, proved to be a way to resolidify a family that had been challenged by Samantha's illness.”
McAllister added that “the visit to the Donkey Sanctuary may have a further positive impact on the family. Anna, who will start studies in animal science at the University of Vermont this fall, has been invited to do an internship at the veterinary clinic affiliated with the sanctuary.”
And, she noted, when a donkey foal was born after the family's visit, it was christened Cassidy in Samantha's honor.
What could be a better holiday gift than a trip to Ireland? There are many options available these days for those who have a special interest – like golf – and want to focus on that interest while in Ireland.
There are also tour companies that offer different types of travel. One company we saw at this summer’s Milwaukee Irish Fest is called Inroads Ireland and focuses on back roads and one-week (eight-night) bus tours that are limited to 14 or fewer participants.
The land-only tours start and end in Dublin. Travelers ride on small buses that can access Ireland’s back roads and more out-of-the-way places. Three tours are offered: Go South, Uncharted Ireland, and Go North.
On the Go South tour, Inroads takes a boat to the Skellig Islands and a ferry across the River Shannon. Accommodation on all tours is in B&Bs, guesthouses, and hotels with en suite bathrooms. All are centrally located in small coastal or country towns to take advantage of Ireland’s pubs and traditional music sessions.
Breakfast is included but lunch and dinner are not. An unregimented schedule is subject to change to maximize every traveler’s experience.
Inroads was founded by Phil Ryan from Dublin and Carolyn Janette from Madison, WI, a married couple who met on a tour of Ireland. Native Irish guides lead the tours and the price includes admission into historical sites.
Inroads tours are not suited to the very elderly or those with health or mobility issues. For more information, contact Phil or Janette at 1-888-220-7711, write to them at 2918 Stevens St., Madison, WI, 53705, visit their website: InroadsIreland.com, or send an e-mail to: info@InroadsIreland.com.
Another tour company we’ve been told about but haven’t personally experienced is Sceptre Tours (1-800-221-0924.) The website, sceptretours.com, says, “Plan your trip exactly as you want it, and let us make it worry-free for you. At Sceptre Tours we are proud to call ourselves the tourist champions of Ireland, Britain, and Italy. As you plan your trip, your choices of accommodations are virtually unlimited.”
Also take a look at dooleyvacations.com (1-877-331-9301) for other travel options. Email is: info@dooleyvacations.com and mail may be sent to 875 Sunrise Highway, Lynbrook, NY, 11563.
• Are you feeling energetic? If so, why not plan to be in the Westport, Co. Mayo, area between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3 for the Croagh Patrick Walking Tour Christmas Walking Festival. This weekend of fun and healthy outdoor activity could help work off any holiday excesses. Visit the website:walkingguideireland.com or e-mail gerry@walkingguideireland.com.
• Numerous Christmas Markets are planned in Ireland for the season. A large market with 70 wooden chalets will be set up in Galway’s Eyre Square through Dec. 19. On sale will be food, beverages, and goods from all over Europe and Ireland and from as far afield as Russia, Peru, the US, and China. Visit the website galwaychristmasmarket.ie for more information.
• A Christmas Market is also planned through Dec. 5 in Doonbeg, Co. Clare. Visit doonbeggolfclub.com or send an e-mail to Linda_coleman@doonbeggolfclub.com for more. And, Dublin has its Christmas market in the Dockland’s IFSC from Dec. 11-Dec. 23. Visit the website: docklands.ie or e-mail to etaylor@dublindocklands.ie
• This magical and festive season will be on display through Jan. 9 at Christmas in Killarney in Co. Kerry. Visit christmasinkillarney.com or send an e-mail to: info@christmasinkillarney.com for details.
Many more holiday activities are scheduled all around Ireland. Visit the Tourist Board’s website, disoverireland.com, for more information on events and festivals.
Ireland is a great place to visit at any time of year and you can always find lots of fun activities there in any season. Be sure to visit your favorite travel agent or the Aer Lingus’ website (aerlingus.com) for the latest direct flights and ground deals. Flights and deals are also offered by US Airways (usairways.com) and other airlines, but usually involve layovers in various cities and can add several hours to your trip. But they also reduce the cost of the trip.
We wish our readers the most wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with health and happiness as well as, hopefully, a trip to the Emerald Isle!