My wife and I, who are both of Turkish descent, are long time residents of Dublin, Ohio. We lived in Columbus in the early 1970s, then left for Baton Rouge, Louisiana for sixteen years. We came back to Dublin in 1994 and made this beautiful suburb of Columbus our final destination and called it "home".
The first immigrants from Ireland are believed to have settled here in Dublin, Ohio in 1802*. In the early 1970's the city had a population of only 5000 people , but started growing rapidly after the Interstate 270 was built. Remarkably, today it's population has reached over 60 000 inhabitants, including Dubliners right outside the municipality borders. To those who don't know, Dublin is the home of Wendy's International head quarters and also hosts the Memorial Tournament on the beautiful Muirfield golf course every year. Dublin is also the home of headquarters or regional offices of several insurance and telecommunication companies. With it's hotels , restaurants, parks and recreational facilities , no doubt today Dublin is the fastest growing suburb of Columbus, Ohio.
Both of our daughters were raised here and graduated from one of the three High schools of the city. Dublin Coffman stands as the original high school and is nestled between Dublin's many suburban neighborhoods. We have enjoyed living in this beautiful growing city by the Scioto river; a home away from home. We feel it is important to be surrounded by culture and traditions and our lives have been enriched by the City's Irish heritage and many celebration's like St. Patrick day and the Dublin Irish Festival.
I will not go into to much detail of my Turkish heritage as this can be easily read and seen from the website .We will leave this subject by just mentioning the subtitle of the site : Nostalgic Writings by an Istanbulite.
So when a Dubliner, who is also an Istanbulite receives an e-mail from an old high school friend **, which contains information that some long time ago the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejit sent help all the way from Istanbul to the small port town of Drogheda in Ireland during the times of a famine ; that becomes "news" to him. Of course this Dublin was the original Dublin in Ireland, where the ancestors of our city's first residents once had immigrated from.
After doing some research, mainly on the internet on this subject, I came up with a very interesting story. As with every story told from generation to generation , where one can only find limited documentation ,there is some controversy about the subject. We will try to bring all points of view and quote the different sources we were able to find.
Taner Baytok, Ambassador General of Turkey to Ireland had started his job in Dublin in 1993. Turkish Embassy suites were on the top floor of a building which housed a retirement community on the lower floors. One day as the Ambassador was going to his office, an old lady, a resident of the retirement home grabbed him by the arm and told him that his son wanted to meet the ambassador and play golf with him. She added that the Ambassador's ancestors had send three ship loads of food and supplies to her ancestors in Drogheda, Ireland while nobody else was helping and her ancestors were starving during the famine years. She added that they never forgot that.
Upon learning this, the newly appointed Ambassador left for Drogheda and met there with the Citys Mayor Alderman Frank Goodfrey. The Mayor told the Ambassador that they have heard the story from generation to generation ; however they had no documents to verify this historical event. With this information , this time Mr. Baytok contacted the Government in Ankara and asked them to help to locate any documents which will confirm such a happening. All Ottoman documents and archives are kept in the Topkapi museum ,but the document about the Ottoman help to Irish came from an unlikely source; the British Embassy in Ankara.
The original document which is now kept at the Topkapi Museum confirms that indeed such a help existed and the Irish Noblemen, Gentlemen as well as its citizens, sent their thanks to her Majesty ; Sultan and Emperor Abdulmejid of the Ottoman Empire. ( Unfortunately, I could not find the original English text of the thank you letter and did not want to include the Turkish translation which can be browsed on the internet, since I could not confirm the correctness of the language.)
However there are few stories , I was able to find which are basically stating similar things . According to one, the Refarans News Paper*** and in summary the story goes like this:
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 Abdulmejid 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, the equivalent of 1.7 million dollars in today' s money to the Irish people. However, the Queen of England who only helped the Irish with $ 2000 Sterling or only with one fifth what the Sultan was ready to give, intervened and limited the Ottoman help to only 1000 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 1000 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.
IRISH THANK YOU LETTER TO SULTAN ABDULMEJIT
Following is a similar story which I have directly copied from it's source:
The Osmanli Traveler Blog has copied to 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.
On the Character of Sultan Abdul Majid Khan, by the Rev. Henry Christmas M.A. (Christian Priest) written in 1853:
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
In 1845, the onset of the
Great Irish Famine resulted in over a million deaths. Ottoman Sultan Khaleefah Abdul-Mejid I declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria 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. Due to this the Irish people, especially those in Drogheda, are friendly to the Turks.
(Note, in 1845, the 10,000 pounds dedicated to the Irish from the Sultan would be worth approximately 800,000 pounds today, that is $1,683,280 US Dollars.On the other hand, the Queen gave the equivilant of 160,000 pounds today or 336,656 US Dollars).
In this Turkish site, it is told that during the negotiations of The Treaty of Lousanne in 1923 , one of the Turkish Representatives and prominent poet Yahya Kemal Beyatli notices that while all the delegates vote against Turkey, only the Irish Representative votes for her. When Yahya Kemal asks the Irishman about the reason behind this, he replies;
"Just like any other Irishmen I have to. When we were struggling with starvation, famine and epidemics during 1840-1845 and no other country was helping, your Ottoman ancestors lend us a helping hand and not only sent us money but ship loads of food. We can never forget that hand of a true friend which reached us during these difficult times You are a country who always deserves our support."****
THE MIRACLE SHIP BY
Once when all these stories surfaced and the documentation was verified in British and Ottoman archives, thanks to the initial efforts of the Turkish Ambassador Baytok , the municipality of the city of Drogheda decided to commensurate this historic event with a plaque. In May 2 of 2007, Mayor Alderman Frank Goofrey thanked the Turkish ambassador during the ceremony and placed the thank you plaque on the walls of the West Court Hotel which used to be the old Government Building where the Turkish sailors and Captains had once stayed. He also drew attention to the City's logo , which consisted of a crescent and star just like the Ottoman crescent and star and added that the plaque will serve as the symbol of friendship between the two countries. On the other hand, Turkish ambassador Baytok thanked the Governor and mentioned that he first learned about this historic event from an 1957 article by Thomas P. O'Neill , published in the Threshold Magazine.
The similarity between the emblems of the Drogheda City and the logo of her Football Club and the Ottoman and Turkish flags...,are these a mere coincidence ? According to some, the city's logo is derived from St. John's royal seal, to others it was linked to the crusades but not the Ottoman's .
Again, another controversy arose when a famous Irish artist painted a Turkish Flag on his painting "The Miracle Ship" .***** But it seems like, or at least it seems to me, that the controversy about the painting centered more on when the Great Famine in Ireland happened and whether the Turkish ship arrived during this era. As the artist himself says in an article in an a local Drogheda paper :
"..a painting is like a mirror that can reflect the viewer in ways that can reveal a great deal for everyone willing to really look.........................I hope that the real symbolism this story portrays is not missed in furor over it's origins. It is wonderful that the star and crescent are symbols that are so diverse and meaningful for everyone in this historic town. "
And I must add ; hopefully this story can reflect the reader in ways that can reveal a great deal for everyone willing to really understand that; ethnic, religious and cultural differences between us are all our strengths when it comes to caring about each other.