In 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over a million deaths. Ottoman Sultan Caliph Abdulmajid I declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but the Queen of England requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling herself. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived in Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors.
In 1845 , because of a the famine in Ireland the population went down from eight million to six million as a result of deaths and mass immigration to America. When the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmajid who was struggling with his own economic problems at the time being due to the big draught that year, heard from his Irish Doctor that his whole family had died in Ireland and so he decided to help the suffering folks in Ireland. Ireland was 4000 miles away from Turkey, which was also in a political turmoil, but his conscious told him to send 10.000 Sterling. However, the Queen of England who only helped the Irish with $ 2.000 Sterling or only with one fifth what the Sultan was ready to give, intervened and limited the Ottoman help to only 1.000 Sterling. Sultan Abdulmejid , knowing that this little will not be of to much help to the people of Ireland decided to send three ships, full of food in addition to 1.000 Sterling to Ireland. Once again Queen Victoria prevented the Turkish ships to enter the harbors of Cork City and Belfast, but they finally succeeded to dock secretly at the small port of Drogheda and deliver the food.
The Letter of Gratitude to Ottoman Sultan from the Noblemen, Gentlemen and Inhabitants of Ireland
“We the noblemen, gentlemen and inhabitants of Ireland want to express our thank and gratitude for the Ottoman Sultan’s munificent assistance due to the disaster of dearth. It is unavoidable for us to appeal the assistance of other countries in order to be saved from the enduring threat of death and famine. The Ottoman Sultan’s munificent response to this aid call displays an example to European States. Numbers were relieved and saved from perishing through this timely act. We express our gratitude on their behalf and hope that the Ottoman Sultan and his dominions will be saved from the afflictions which have befallen us.”
Ottoman efforts to provide food and lessen the pains of the Irish people, despite political obstacles and the long distance, certainly deserves to be appreciated. It is a case study that should be analyzed carefully, not only as historical evidence for the friendship between two nations, but also as a perfect example that differences of race, religion, or language should not prevent humanitarian aid.
Ireland President’s Thank to Ottoman Caliphate
President McAleese on her official visit to Turkey (23.03.2010) made the statement during her meeting with Turkish president Abdullah Gul and expressed the words of gratitude from the people of Ireland for humanitarian aid provided by Ottoman Caliphate.
On the Character of Sultan Abdul Majid Khan, by the Rev. Henry Christmas M.A. (Christian Priest) written in 1853:
A text a writeup by a Christian Priest who wrote about the Sultan of the time in his travelogue. His account mentions this incident briefly. What is interesting is that without knowing of the secret sending of the ships, the priest was already impressed with the character of the Sultan in his response to the Queen.
“One or two anecdotes will put his character in its true light. During the year of famine in Ireland, the Sultan heard of the distress existing in that unhappy country; he immediately conveyed to the British ambassador his desire to aid in its relief, and tendered for that purpose a large sum of money. It was intimated to him that it was thought right to limit the sum subscribed by the Queen, and a larger amount could not therefore be received from his highness. He at once acquiesced in the propriety of his resolution, and with many expressions of benevolent sympathy, sent the greatest admissible subscription.
It is well known that his own personal feeling dictated the noble reply of the divan to the threatening demands of Austria and Russia for the extradition of the Polish and Hungarian refugees. “I am not ignorant,” was his reply, “of the power of those empires, nor of the ulterior measures to which their intimations point; but I am compelled by my religion to observe the laws of hospitality; and I believe that the sense and good feeling of Europe will not allow my government to be drawn into a ruinous war, because I resolve strictly and solemnly to adhere to them.”
This is the true spirit of Christianity, and there is more it in the Mohammedan Sultan of Turkey, than in any or all of the Christian princes of Eastern Europe.”
“The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Medjid Khan: A Brief Memoir of His Life and Relign, with Notices of The Country, its Navy, & present Prospects” by the Rev. Henry Christmas, M.A., 1853 —