Sunday, 17 March 2013

Did the Ottomans give food aid during the Irish Potato Famine?

By the magic that is Twitter, BFTF recently became aware of a post at Hotter Than A Pile of Curry which describes how, in 1845, the Ottoman Sultan Khaleefah Abdul-Majid I supplied financial and food aid to Ireland, which was at the time in the grip of a devastating potato famine.

The Sultan Abdul-Majid
According to the article, the food aid arrived in Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors.

As port records of the time have been lost, evidence that the ships actually arrrived has to come from third parties, which has been hard to come by. So it was great to read articles in the Drogheda Independant (see here, and here) which states that :
"During the week of May 10 to May 14, 1847, there is a reference in both the Drogheda Argus and the Drogheda Conservative newspapers to ' foreign ships' that docked at Drogheda (close to Dublin) that week. These included three ships from the Balkans, two of which arrived from the Ottoman Port of Thessalonica, which today is known as Salonika."

BFTF has been surprised to see that the Ottoman navy at the time had some of the most powerful warships in the world, such as the Mahmudiye.
The Mahmudiye
Lastly, it is perhaps worth mentioning that, so far as BFTF can tell, the Star and Cresent in the Drogheda Civic Arms (and in the Drogheda football club emblem) predate the famine by several hundred years. The star and crescent are the personal royal seal of King John, who gave the town its charter.

Image Sources
Mahmudiye, Sultan Abdul Majid

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