How the Ottoman Empire helped Ireland

How the Ottoman Empire helped Ireland

How the Ottoman Empire helped Ireland The Great Irish Potato Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, was one of the most devastating periods in Irish history, lasting from 1845 to 1852. During this time, Ireland faced widespread famine and death due to the failure of the potato crop, which was a staple food for the majority of the population. While the Irish diaspora in the United States and Canada is well-documented, a lesser-known but significant story of assistance during this crisis comes from an unexpected source: the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Offer of Aid

In 1847, as news of the Irish famine reached the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdülmecid I was deeply moved by the plight of the Irish people. In a remarkable display of empathy and humanitarianism, he decided to offer assistance to the famine-stricken country. Despite the significant geographical and cultural distance between the Ottoman Empire and Ireland, this offer of aid demonstrated the sultan’s genuine concern for the suffering of others.

The Ottoman Contribution

Sultan Abdülmecid I’s offer of assistance came in the form of a monetary donation. He pledged £1,000, a substantial sum at the time, which would be equivalent to several hundred thousand pounds today. While this may not seem like a vast amount in today’s terms, it was a meaningful and heartfelt gesture of support for the Irish people during their darkest hours.

It’s essential to understand the historical context. The Ottoman Empire, despite its own challenges and vast territories, extended a helping hand to a distant land facing a humanitarian crisis. This act of compassion transcended boundaries, illustrating the empathy of the Ottoman ruler.

Reception in Ireland

The Ottoman Empire’s offer of aid was met with gratitude and appreciation by the Irish people. It arrived at a time when many international efforts to help alleviate the famine were underway. The Ottoman contribution was used to purchase food and other supplies for those affected by the famine. It provided a glimmer of hope amidst the overwhelming suffering and despair.

Legacy and Lessons

The story of the Ottoman Empire’s aid during the Irish Potato Famine is a testament to the universality of human compassion and solidarity. It highlights the potential for unexpected alliances and acts of kindness during times of crisis. While the historical record of this event may be relatively obscure, it serves as a reminder that empathy knows no borders.

In an era marked by geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the historical example of the Ottomans aiding Ireland stands as an inspiring model of international cooperation and humanitarian assistance. It teaches us that, regardless of our differences, we have the capacity to help one another in times of dire need.


The assistance offered by the Ottoman Empire to Ireland during the Great Potato Famine is a remarkable and often overlooked chapter in both Irish and Ottoman history. It underscores the importance of empathy, solidarity, and humanitarian values, transcending geographical and cultural divides. As we reflect on this historical act of kindness, we are reminded that compassion and aid can come from the most unexpected sources, offering hope and relief to those in their darkest hours.

Watch video on the Ireland Famine

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