Ireland's Helping Hand to Europe

Combatting Hunger from Normandy to Tirana, 1945–1950
$105.00 / €90.00 / £85.00
Publication date: 
May 2021, 430 pages, 25 photos, 34 tables

Post-war Marshall Plan aid to Europe and indeed Ireland is well documented, but practically nothing is known about simultaneous Irish aid to Europe. This book provides a full record of the aid – mainly food but also clothes, blankets, medicines, etc. – that Ireland donated to continental Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Balkans, Italy, and zones of occupied Germany.

Starting with Ireland’s neutral wartime record, often wrongly presented as pro-German when Ireland in fact unofficially favoured the western Allies, Jérôme aan de Wiel explains why Éamon de Valera’s government sent humanitarian aid to the devastated continent. His book analyses the logistics of collection and distribution of supplies sent abroad as far as the Greek islands.

Despite some alleged Cold-War hijacking of Irish relief – and this humanitarianism was not above the politics of that East-West confrontation – it became mostly a story of hope, generosity and European Christian solidarity. Rich archival records from Ireland and the European beneficiary countries, as well as contemporary local and national newspapers across Europe, allow the author to measure and describe not only the official but also the popular response to Irish relief schemes. This work is illustrated with contemporary photographs and some key graphs and tables that show the extent of the aid programme.


PART I: Deciding & Organising Relief at Home

Chapter One: Two Worlds Poles Apart

Chapter Two: Handshake Debacle amidst Humanitarian Crisis

Chapter Three: ‘A drop in the ocean': The Decision to Send Relief

Chapter Four: Reaction and Organisation

Chapter Five: Archbishop McQuaid to the Rescue

Chapter Six: 1946, Second Phase of Relief

Chapter Seven: End of Relief

PART II: Distributing Irish Supplies Abroad

Chapter Eight: Irish Aid to Western Europe

Chapter Nine: Cooperation with the International Red Cross in Geneva

Chapter Ten: The Western Allied Zones in Germany

Chapter Eleven: Berlin, the Soviet Zone and eastern expellees 

Chapter Twelve: Ireland’s aid to Central Europe; Austria, Czechoslovakia & Poland

Chapter Thirteen: Hungary

Chapter Fourteen: Ireland’s Aid to the Balkans: Albania, Bulgaria, Greece & Romania

Chapter Fifteen: Yugoslavia                                    

Chapter Sixteen: Thanking Ireland


List of frequently used abbreviations