Tag Archives: Great Hunger

Sultan’s aid to Famine Ireland: new telling of an old tale

In 1847 a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire provided relief to Ireland during the Great Hunger, An Gorta Mor. That the ruler sent money appears beyond dispute. Whether he also directed shiploads of food to the Irish port of Drogheda, County Louth, is more of a mystery.

Freelance writer Tom Verde has produced a well-researched telling of this old tale in the Jan./Feb. 2015 issue of AramcoWorld magazine, which is dedicated to Arabic and Islamic cultures.

Whatever the truth, this chapter in the history of “The Great Hunger” has nonetheless been immortalized in paint and in stone, and may yet be made into a feature film—should the ambitions of Turkish producer Omer Sarikaya be fulfilled. Yet, at its heart lies the undisputed fact of a generous gesture on the part of an Ottoman ruler toward a people to whom he owed nothing but the mercy required of him by faith and personal character.

Here’s a link to the full story.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese was criticized for believing too much of the story during her 2010 visit to Turkey. Verde reports the proposed movie, in the works since 2012, will be released later this year.

The nearly 170-year-old story appears to have gained new popularity in the age of the Internet, as well as increased attention to the relations between Islam and the West.

There were nearly 50,000 Muslims living in Ireland in April 2011, “a sharp rise on five years previously,” the Central Statistics Office reported in October 2012.  From 1991 to 2011, the number of Muslims increased from just 0.1 to 1.1 per cent of the total population.