JUST IN time to coincide with the visit of a large Turkish delegation to the town, local historian Brendan Matthews has uncovered more proof that backs up the story of help during the Famine from the Ottoman Empire.
The 20 members of the Sisli Rotary Club in Turkey were in Drogheda as guests of the local Rotary Club and were first welcomed to the town by Mayor Paul Bell at a civic reception in the Tholsel on Friday morning, before President of Sisli Rotary Club Omur Baytok was presented with two draft copies of Brendan Matthews' new book 'Drogheda and The Turkish Ships of 1847', which bolsters the evidence of famine aid.
'I can tell you that the flag of the Drogheda Steam Packet Company was a Star and Crescent symbol, similar to that of the Ottoman Empire, and it would have been seen by sailors in other ports, and would more than have piqued the interest of the Sultan,' he told the Drogheda independent.
'Also one of the company's ship, the St Patrick, went on to be used as a French troopship in the Crimean War in 1853, with the Turkish armies against Russia. Perhaps it continued to carry the Star and Crescent even then.'
Whatever the links all those centuries ago, there is no doubt the connections are being firmly forged now, and Drogheda Rotary President Tom Eustace particularly hoped this was the start of a lasting union.
'I hope that as well as friendships, there will be more businesslike connections made during your visit, and also into the future,' he said.
' Turkey is looking to do more business in Ireland, and they want to open a Channel of Excellence, with Drogheda being the gateway to Turkish business, with tourism from their country automatically coming to the town.'
From their civic reception, the visiting party was them brought on a visit to Newgrange and a tour of the Boyne Valley region, and Saturday saw them touring the Battle of the Boyne site, the new Louth Craftmark shop in Wogan's Interiors, an art exhibition in Scotch Hall and in the evening a dinner in the d Hotel.
' The Rotary Club has to thank the Mayor and all at Drogheda Borough Council, artist Sean O'wyer, Drogheda Chamber of Commerce and Brendan Matthews for such a success event' adds Tom.
'We have signed an accord twinning the two clubs, and they were such an easy-going and relaxed group, it was like entertaining long-lost friends, and I think they thoroughly enjoyed their time here.'