Top 5 countries that helped Ireland during the Famine, RANKED

The Irish Famine was a time in history that left a huge mark on the Ireland we know and love today.

The Great Potato Famine marks a pivotal point in Irish history and saw mass emigration to other parts of the world, a dramatic decrease in the Irish population, and the ones left behind fighting for survival.

It is something that the world has come to learn about, but in those days, who were the ones to help our small country battle one of its hardest times?

The Great Famine was, in fact, the first natural disaster to attract international fundraising activities.

We will take a look at the top five countries that helped Ireland during the Famine, some of which you might have known about and some which you might not.

5. Britain despite a lot of controversy

Britain was one of the countries that helped Ireland during the Famine.

Although there is a lot of controversy about British funding, there is something great to be said about the British Relief Association.

This was a private charity that was set up by a group of philanthropists, bankers, and aristocrats. They all had one goal in mind.

It was the largest private provider of aid for Ireland in the 1840s. They received numerous donations from British politicians and Queen Victoria herself.

4. The Islamic State Ottoman – an integral country for Irish support

The Islamic State Ottoman was an integral part of Irish aid.
Credit: wikimediacommons.org

The leader of the Ottoman Empire in those days was Sultan Khaleefah Abdul-Majid, who played a big part in providing relief to Ireland.

His was certainly one of the countries that helped Ireland during the Famine. Originally, he had planned to send nearly €12,000 to help the Irish farmers.

However, he was told to send just under €1,000, as it could not be seen that he sent more than the Queen herself, who had given around €1,700.

He sent just under €1,000 as promised, but secretly sent three ships packed with food to Ireland. The British tried to block this; however, the food luckily arrived safely at Drogheda Harbour.

READ MORE: Learn more about this tragic period in Irish history with our article on the top 10 horrifying facts about the Irish Potato Famine everyone should understand

3. The Caribbean nations – small nations came together

The Caribbean nations had many countries that helped Ireland during the Famine.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Sometimes, donations to Ireland came from the poorest and most unexpected countries, including islands in the Caribbean and West Indies.

Despite their own hardships, people in Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Kitts, and many other small nations came together during one of the hardest times in Irish history.

This included formerly enslaved people who had only achieved full freedom in 1838. They sent donations as means of relief to the cause.

2. India – raised donations all over the country

India raised donations all over the country.

In 1845, the city of Calcutta in India was the first to send a large donation to Ireland in a bid to help feed many starving people. It was one of the major countries that helped Ireland during the Famine.

With a committee made up of British, Irish, and Indian members, together they raised donations from people all over India.

This included Indian princes, Irish-born soldiers from the British Army, and wealthy Indians. Even lower-class Indians who did not have much to spare gave what they could.

This incredible plea saw nearly €17,000 raised for Irish relief. It continued to encourage other Europeans living in India to help the cause. This money was sent mainly to the West of Ireland via local Catholic priests. 

1. The USA – one of the main countries to help Ireland        

The USA was one of the countries that helped Ireland during the Famine.
Credit: Flickr/ Ben Sutherland

Relief for Ireland began in Boston, Massachusetts, where a committee known as the Boston Repeal Association was set up and was the first foreign campaign to be established at the time.

The USA really was one of the leading countries that helped Ireland during the Great Famine. At one point, 118 vessels sailed across the Atlantic, providing relief of over €400,000.

Some of the main states that provided funding included South Carolina, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania was the second most crucial state in the whole country for aid, as well as the second-largest shipping port enabling the resources to be brought overseas.

Native Americans also helped the Irish during the Great Famine. Funds were raised by a group of Native American Choctaws in 1847. They themselves had just faced the Trail of Tears’ and had suffered from starvation just 16 years prior.

Today, a sculpture called ‘Kindred Spirit’ stands in Bailick Park in County Cork, as a reminder of what the Choctaw people did for Ireland.

Kindred Spirit memorial in County Cork.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

So, there you have it, these are the top five countries that helped Ireland during the Famine. However, donations of course came in from all over the world at the time.

The total sum of the relief Ireland received was estimated at around €1.2 million, which is equal to around €103 million in modern times.

Over €1 million of this was said to have been donated from international charities and voluntary contributions.

The Famine was an event that devastated the country. However, it brought many religions, nationalities, and people of all beliefs together to provide aid for Ireland. There is something pretty extraordinary about that.

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