/  Destinations   /  IRELAND AND CHOCTAW HISTORY


Two ancient peoples. A modern-day connection. Nothing divides the Choctaw people from the Irish except for the ocean.

Both the Choctaw Nation and Ireland were, in effect, colonized by outside powers. Their ancient tongues almost became extinct, and have been rescued from oblivion and made into working languages again through concerted effort and sophisticated approaches. Both peoples have successfully preserved their cultures and traditions.


Photo Credit: Deidre Elrod

Their relationship began in 1847, when the Choctaws—who had only recently arrived over the ruinous “trail of tears and death” to what is now Oklahoma—took up a donation and collected over $5,000 (in today’s money) to support the Irish during the Great Hunger of the 1840s.

The Choctaws’ donation was sent to the town of Midleton in County Cork, There, many decades later, the townspeople realized their aid had come from a people who were themselves in a very unique set of circumstances—reestablishing their society and their government after the long and painful migration.

Irish President Mary Robinson visited the Choctaw Nation in 1995 to rekindle and reestablish the friendship, and thank Choctaws for their aid to Midleton. Some years later, in 2017, a sculpture commemorating the Choctaws and their gift, known as “Kindred Spirits,” was dedicated in a beautiful park in Midleton.

In 2018, Ireland’s prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, visited Choctaw Nation headquarters to thank the Choctaws and initiate the first of a continuing series of yearly scholarships for Choctaw students to study in Ireland. Ireland’s Consul General visited the Choctaw Nation a year later.

In 2020 the story took a new twist when a pandemic known as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, caused disruptions around the world. The death toll was particularly acute in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. The Irish, stating that they were “paying it forward” with their aid from the Choctaws in mind, took up a very sizeable donation with which to aid and assist the Navajo and Hopi.

Today, on March 23rd, 1847 when An Gorta Mór was inflicted on Ireland, members of the Choctaw Nation, sent $170 dollars to Ireland to help alleviate the famine conditions.

The Choctaw people who had been forced from their own lands identified with the struggle the Irish were facing with the British presence in Ireland.

Some 170 years later it was Ireland’s turn to return the favor.

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