Girlfriend of Irishman killed by dogs takes 'walk of love' in his memory


ALMOST THREE months into a slow walk around Ireland with her donkey, Agnieszka Jablonska has spoken of the warm welcome she has received along the road.

She said yesterday that people sharing their tragedies with her is helping heal her hurt.

The 30-year-old Polish woman described her 3,000-mile pilgrimage-like trek as “a walk of love” after she had witnessed her Irish boyfriend mauled to death by two farm dogs while they were in Malaysia.

The dogs that killed Maurice Sullivan (51), from Waterford, were trained to protect the Penang farm from wild boars and pythons. They were put down seven months after the attack following an appeal to the Malaysian high court from Sullivan’s family.

Ms Jablonska and 15-year-old donkey Mucci are walking 10km a day – so their trek could take a couple of years.

“We’re in no rush, this journey is not a race,” she said. Already they have had a one-week stop at a donkey sanctuary in Sligo.

So long as Mucci is happy carrying her camping gear they will keep on walking, and they may take a long break if the winter weather becomes too severe, she said.

Ms Jablonska is relying on the friendliness of people along her way as she looks for places to pitch her tent and give Mucci some rest.

She and her Waterford boyfriend of 10 years were working on an organic farm in Penang island in Malaysia when he was suddenly set upon by two cross-bred pitbulls on January 9th, 2011.

He was mauled to death as she watched in horror. She said she believed she was luckier than families who never got a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

The donkey was a gift from Mr Sullivan’s family to Ms Jablonska. Exactly 18 months after his death, she set out from Galway with the animal on a round-Ireland pilgrimage to express her love for Mr Sullivan.

In Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, yesterday, Ms Jablonska, who has drunk hundreds of cups of tea in wellwishers’ homes on the way, said few actually talked about what happened to her boyfriend.

“They don’t tell me their own love stories. They tell me about their tragedies or something that has changed their life in one way or the other,” she said.

“People like to share their own stories with me because I am passing by and I am not going to stay there so they share things with me. I feel very privileged that I can hear their stories.”

The stories of suicides and other tragedies in which families never had an opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones has made Ms Jablonska aware that she was lucky to be with Mr Sullivan when he died, despite the awful circumstances.

“However horrible and vicious Maurice’s death was, and there is no doubt it was that way, I had time to say goodbye to him. I was there. I would prefer to have been there than to get a phone call about his death,” said Ms Jablonska.

“Maurice, who I still love very much, would have a big laugh about what I am doing. He would think this is the last thing I would do. But I am doing it.”

Now she concentrates on remembering the love she and Mr Sullivan shared, and that she knew such a good person for 10 years.