When the Irish were starving to death in the Great Famine, there were concentrated efforts in other countries to bring relief to the suffering here at home. This blog post outlines some results of efforts made across the world but most particularly in the ranks of the Union military in the American Civil War.
Originally posted on Irish in the American Civil War:
In 1863, Ireland was on the brink of famine. Poor harvests for three consecutive years had left many destitute, and disaster loomed. In response to the threat, relief committees that had previously been established to channel funds to assist the worst afflicted areas were reactivated. The large Irish population in the United States, many of whom were Famine victims themselves, were not to be found wanting in coming to the assistance of those at home. The cause was championed by the leaders of Irish-American communities, and soon Irish Relief Funds emerged across the war-stricken North.
Irish soldiers were also quick to put their hands in their pockets to help out those less fortunate. Irishmen in the British army of India collected rupees for the appeal, while those soldiers stationed in Shanghai, China sent on £108 sterling. The Irishmen in Union blue were no different to their red-coated brethren. Even so, it is remarkable that despite the ongoing hardships of life at the front, thousands were willing to contribute to ease the suffering of the Irish poor.