Droichead Átha / Drogheda
Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland.
The star and crescent emblem in the crest of the coat of arms is mentioned as part of the mayor’s seal by D’Alton (1844). In 2010, Irish president Mary McAleese, in a speech delivered during an official visit to Turkey, stated that the star and crescent had been added in the aftermath of the Great Famine as gratitude for food supplies donated by the Ottoman Sultan, which had arrived at Drogheda by ship. Irish press quickly pointed out the story was a myth, with a local historian calling it ‘nothing short of sheer nonsense’. However, later evidence, including a letter displayed at the office of the European commission, confirms that Turkey came to the aid of the Irish during the Famine. During the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid donated £1,000 to famine relief. A letter written by Irish notables in the Ottoman archives explicitly thanks the Sultan for his help. According to legend, the Sultan had originally intended to send £10,000, but either British diplomats or his own ministers requested that the Sultan send only £1,000, so as not to donate more than Queen Victoria, who had sent £2,000. He is also said to have sent three or fiveships full of food. The British administration allegedly attempted to block the ships, but by local tradition the food arrived secretly at Drogheda harbour and was left there by Ottoman sailors.Shipping records relating to the port appear not to have survived. In 1995, the Drogheda town hall erected a placard in commemoration.