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How Turks eased hunger of our Famine

A TURKISH film that tells of how the Ottoman Empire sent food aid to Ireland at the height of the Famine will begin shooting here this July.

'Hunger' is based on events during 1847, when -- moved by stories of the humanitarian disaster in Ireland -- the Sultan of the Ottoman empire, Abdul Majid, sent £1,000 and three ships laden with food to Drogheda, Co Louth.

"It's a little-known but inspiring story," writer and director Omer Sarikaya told the Irish Independent.

The filmmaker will travel to Ireland in three weeks time to audition Irish actors for the project, which will be filmed in both Turkey and Ireland.

"Our film tells an incredible story, but also the meeting of a Turkish sailor called Fatih, and an Irish woman called Mary.

"This is a story of two countries coming together during sadness and a love affair between two people from different countries," Mr Sarikaya said.

Legend has it that the Sultan Abdul Majid had intended to pledge £10,000 to Irish farmers but that Queen Victoria requested that he send only £1,000, because she herself had only donated £2,000.

But apparently the sultan, after agreeing to the change, secretly sent three ships to Ireland laden with food.

The Turkish generosity is remembered by a plaque which was unveiled at the West Court Hotel in West Street, Drogheda, in 1995.

Former president Mary McAleese referred to the episode when she addressed guests at a state dinner in Ankara in 2010.

Irish Independent