A Dingle Peninsula Donkey Family
A Dingle Peninsula Donkey Family -
Donkeys are a widely recognised part of the Irish rural landscape.
However, donkeys are not native to Ireland.....
Donkeys have long been known as beasts of burden because of their capacity to carry and pull loads up to twice their body weight. For this reason, they were used in the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road, which stretched from China to the Mediterranean Ocean. It is through the Silk Road that donkeys spread to Europe.
In the Mediterranean countries, donkeys were used to work the vineyards. The Romans took donkeys into Northern and Western Europe for agricultural work in Roman colonies. The donkey most probably arrived in Britain with the Roman invasion in the first century AD.
It is therefore somewhat of a surprise to learn that donkeys were only recently introduced to Ireland. The earliest known documented reference to a donkey is in 1642, a reference to a single donkey taken as spoils in the capture of Maynooth castle. There are a few references to donkeys or asses in the 18th century. However, it isn't until the 19th century that the donkey appears to be used widely. One researcher suggests that the donkey may have been used for milking purposes by the wealthy long before being used by farmers to do the work of horses.
Many donkeys were brought to Ireland during the the Peninsular War, from 1808 to 1814, when there was demand for Irish horses. This war was staged on the Iberian Peninsula between the English and Spanish fighting Napoleon's army. There is evidence to suggest that donkeys were brought to Ireland from England and traded for horses during this time. Certainly, it is after this time that the donkey appears much more frequently in Irish documents and records.
From Daily Photos