Belfast Telegraph

Donkey auction raised funds during First World War, old records show

By David Young

Donkeys were auctioned off in Ireland as part of efforts to raise funds during the First World War, century-old public records have shown.

A document unearthed by the Public Record Office in Northern Ireland (PRONI) has revealed one of the more unusual charity initiatives undertaken during the war.

Proceeds from the November 1914 donkey sale in Bangor, Co Down, were given to the Belgium Relief Fund – an international effort to provide food to a nation suffering shortages under German occupation.

Many Belgians were driven to the brink of starvation as Germany requisitioned supplies to feed its own troops.

The Irish were confronted with stark evidence of this when many refugees from Belgium started arriving following the outbreak of war in August 1914.

The document, complete with a picture of an auctioned donkey, came from the records of the former Bangor Borough Council.

Alyson Stanford from PRONI said it was just one of many thousands of documents from the period detailing war experiences.

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