Heroes of The Great Irish Famine

In 2014, the ‘Heroes of the Great Irish Famine’ project was launched as a resource for those interested in commemorating the Great Irish Famine, alongside the IrishFamine.ie website.

This project aims to provide people of all ages with a different perspective on the Great Irish Famine and capture the interest of those who may not have previously engaged with the National Famine Commemoration programme. It is intended that it will become a valuable information resource for adults and young people alike and will inspire them to learn more about this tragic period in our history. It aims to encourage us all to be mindful of those suffering from hunger and disease in the modern world and to show similar empathy and generosity of spirit to those less fortunate then ourselves.

Members of the public can submit short narratives and any primary resources or illustrations to [email protected]. All submissions will be reviewed by the National Famine Commemoration Committee before being uploaded to the website. The NFCC has full authority to upload or remove material at its discretion. Contributions are intended as an information resource only and to stimulate discussion and debate and are not necessarily the views of the National Famine Commemoration Committee or the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Some notable contributors to relief efforts include:

  • On March 23, 1847 the Indians of the Choctaw nation took up a collection of $170 for Irish Famine relief – an incredible sum at the time. This was particularly poignant given their own history of enduring deprivation themselves. In 1831 the Choctaw Indians were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Mississippi to what is now known as Oklahoma. The Choctaws were the first of several tribes to make this difficult trek or Trail of Tears as it became known. The years during and immediately following this journey, were very difficult for the tribal people. Many of the Choctaws did not survive the trip, and those that did faced hardships establishing new homes, schools, and churches. Only 16 years after this journey, the Choctaws learned of the famine in Ireland. As the Choctaws themselves had faced hunger and death on the first Trail of Tears, they felt a great empathy with the Irish people. These Choctaw people, who had such meagre resources, gave all they could on behalf of others in greater need.
  • In addition, Abdul Mejid Khan was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire became involved in Famine relief for the Irish and donated one thousand pounds and it is also said that he sent three ships with food supplies to Drogheda.
  • The Jewish community in New York raised hundreds of dollars for famine relief in Ireland.
  • Committee of Colored Citizens in Philadelphia. All money raised by the Committee was given to leading anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass to give to Irish relief when he got to Ireland. Also surprisingly Abraham Lincoln who had just been elected to the House of Representatives donated £5.
  • In 1847, Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki, a Polish explorer, geologist and philanthropist arrived in Ireland as a volunteer at a time when millions were dying of starvation and disease and helped many children escape starvation.


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