\"Charlie

Charlie Boorman went in search of Danny the donkey's American ancestors Photo by: Google Images

Famous donkey from Arizona at center stage of Louth Gathering event

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Charlie Boorman went in search of Danny the donkey's American ancestors Photo by: Google Images

As the saying goes, there are only two kinds of people in the world - the Irish and those who wish they were.

But it looks like the famous quote should be extended to include animals, after an American donkey travelled back to Ireland to trace his ancient roots.

'Danny The Donkey', a two-year-old ass from Arizona, will take centre stage at this weekend's 'Global Donkey Derby Gathering' in Omeath, Co. Louth.

And organisers of the festival claim the distinctive black mule, which has a white mane and tail, is the direct descendant from a donkey which their owners transported from their village when they emigrated to the US over 100 years ago.

Earlier this year TV adventurer Charley Boorman led exhaustive efforts to track down a direct descendant to the original emigrant donkey from Omeath, which was also called 'Danny'.

His search ended in success when his contacts told him of an ass that matched the description to his grandfather at a stud farm in Arizona.

After the stud farm owners agreed to donate the renamed 'Danny' to Omeath's 'Cornamucklagh Donkey Derby Committee', arrangements followed to make him the star attraction of this weekend's festival.

Last Friday 'Danny' was paraded around the streets of Dublin after an 8,000km animal air-freight trip from Arizona.

And on Sunday he will be officially welcomed back to his ancestral home and given the honour of opening the festival.

Festival spokesman Conor Morney said up to 8,000 people are expected to pour into the village over the weekend to enjoy the events and meet their long-last ass.

But he admitted he could not definitely say whether 'Danny The Donkey' hailed from Omeath stock.

He said: "Unfortunately, as the father of 'Danny The Donkey' is no longer living, we cannot exactly scientifically prove that this donkey is a direct descendant of the donkey that left Omeath. However, we believe that because of this rare trait of the white mane and tail, this donkey is definitely a descendant."

The annual festival, which kicks off today (Sat), includes the largest-ever number of entries for the legendary Donkey Derby Race.

For more information, see www.donkeyderbyfestival.com or DonkeyDerbyFestival on Facebook.

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