All week, while other paintings have come and gone in the studio, Bubbles and I have been spending time together. Perhaps I didn't really want to finish this painting, because I enjoy his company so much. He is such a gentleman - so polite and kind. With adorable ears and a muzzle that begs to be petted.
What I know about Bubbles (the real donkey, not my whimsical depiction) I learned from John Mulvihill, his current owner. Bubbles was sorely neglected when John came across him. Hair wild and matted, undernourished, belly filled with worms. He was for sale for the small sum of 30 euros (about $33), which was less than it would cost to make him well again.
John bought him anyway, bringing him to the bog village to join a herd of ponies who pulled the wagons for visitors.
To the left is a photo of Bubbles taken from writer Jerry Mulvihill's book, The Puck Fair, Ireland's Oldest Celebration. This was how our beloved donkey looked when he first arrived at his new home in 2013.
Bubbles today is quite shy, hanging back at the end of the pasture while the ponies gallop to the gate when the treat bucket is brought out. He will come to the gate when his name as called, but backs away when his comrades begin bumping and jostling for position. He's the opposite of the stereotypical donkey, which we think of as brash and uncouth. No, Bubbles is a prince in the paddock, all refined and gentile, despite his harsh upbringing and the hard times of his past.
I am an incurable romantic, and adore this donkey's Cinderella story. Thanks to the kindness and care-taking of one man, this gentle beast has a new life in verdant pastures, surrounded by energetic ponies and belly filled with tasty food.
If this Irish donkey could talk, I wonder what tales he might tell as he pulls a cart through the bog village. I imagine his brogue to be thick and deep, his tone to be paced with long pauses, his voice soft. He might end each tale with this: "there is kindness in the world amidst the harshness and pain, and even a donkey may live happily ever after."