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history lesson

American campaign to help 'starving, cold, barefooted children' of Ireland

The advertisement was found in the archives of the Washington Herald from 24 March 1921.

imageClick here for larger image. (The Washington Herald/National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress)

THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE for Relief in Ireland was set up in 1920 to offer financial help to those affected by the War of Independence.

Although those with Irish ancestors were represented on the group, there were also donations made by other individuals following campaigns such as this one that appeared on 24 March 1921 in the Washington Herald.

The text reads:

Mothers and fathers of America, will you help feed and clothe the hungry and cold children and helpless mothers of stricken Ireland?

Famine, terrible and ruthless in its destruction of helpless human beings, is spreading in Ireland today. It is about to add thousands of innocent victims to the hundreds of thousands already in desperate need of the bare necessities that keep body and soul together. In every Irish village and town, sickness, pestilence and death invade the humble homes, striking swiftly and surely the mothers and children incapable of resistance through months of struggle against cold and hunger.

Children of tender years, barefooted, ragged and wretched, trudge daily through the cold to a school now used for a relief station to obtain the one meal a day on which they are kept alive. This meal consists of a piece of bread and a warm drink.

This appeal is made in the name of humanity to relieve distress, hunger and terrors of sickness and disease in the land whose people have always looked on us as the nation whose ever-burning light of charity shines on the pathway ahead to lead the world.

Tragic sorrow and disaster are on every hand today in that hitherto happy land of legend and fairytale. Song and laughter are gone from the lips of her children. Misery and desolation have broken the gay and happy hearts of her lads and lassies, and appalling disaster is everywhere in her stricken land.

Your help will ease the pain and agony of a sick or dying Irish mother. Your generosity will bring back the smiles to the faces of innocent, starving children; the comfort and happiness to thousands of mothers who are compelled to suffer the cruel torture of standing, helpless and hopeless, while their babies suffer the pangs of hunger and cold.

Irish men and women came to our assistance in our hour of need. Let us repay our debt to Ireland a hundredfold! Don’t let petty prejudice influence you against a people who have done as much as any race on earth for the betterment of civilization.

Surrounded by comforts, pleasures and luxuries, can you be happy while these helpless women and children are calling you!

Give to them in the name of humanity and mercy! Give to save the life of a little Irish child and to ease the pain and sorrow of a starving Irish mother! Give with the same generosity and charity that has always characterized the Irish race!

Give generously! Give at once!

The list of donors includes businesses and individuals.

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