independent

Friday 18 January 2019

Ottoman ships on the Boyne

New evidence for the 'myth'

ALISON COMYN

DROGHEDA'S OWN history sleuth Brendan Matthews has uncovered further compelling evidence that three ships from the Ottoman Empire sailed up the River Boyne carrying supplies for the town during the Irish Famine.

During the week of May 10 to May 14, 1847, there is a reference in both the Drogheda Argus and the Drogheda Conservative newspapers to 'foreign ships' that docked at Drogheda that week.

These included three ships from the Balkans, two of which arrived from the Ottoman Port of Thessalonica, which today is known as Salonika, while the third ship arrived at the same time from the port of Stettin.

These three ships were carrying wheat and the 'dreaded' Indian Corn for local merchants in the Louth and Meath area.

The two ships from Thessalonica were ' The Porcupine', master of the ship named as Captain Cleveland and The Ann, master of this ship Captain Cloid or Floyd.

The third, from Stettin, was named the Alita or Meta, with Captain C.E. Meeluch at the helm.

Leading local historian Brendan has been somewhat skeptical of the arrival of the ' Turkish ships' in the past, but says this latest find does raise questions. 'I am still not convinced; however, this is the closest I have come to finding documentation, as there are no shipping records for Drogheda Port at that time,' he told the Drogheda Independent.

' The timeframe matches perfectly, but the fact there is no firm documentary evidence may not be a coincidence.'

The Ottoman Sultan Abdul Madjd Khan sent £1,000 on Wednesday, March 31, 1847, to Dublin Castle. He wished to send more but was advised that he had to send less than Queen Victoria, who had sent £2,000.

The story of his generosity appeared in the London Times on Saturday, April 17, 1847, and also in the pages of the Nation newspaper of the same date. The details of the Sultan's humanitarian gesture to Ireland also appeared in the pages of the London Morning Post of Wednesday, April 21, 1847.

'According to sources within the Turkish Embassy and the oral history of the Turkish people, the Sultan also sent three ships very soon after he had sent the £1,000 and that all three ships, although they may not have left the same port, arrived in Ireland at the same time and docked at the port of Drogheda,' says Brendan.

'If the Sultan had indeed sent such ships after the money aid, these ships would then have reached Irish shores around the first or second week in May of 1847.'

' The sultan of Turkey, Abdul Medjid Khan, may have sent the ships as a "hushed-up" gesture, not wanting to upset Queen Victoria,' says Brendan.

News