Great Irish Famine Letter Once Held by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s Ancestors Returns to Skibbereen, Ireland

Ismailimail is excited to share this post. We are humbled to play a small part in making this connection possible. Terri Kearney (Manager of Skibbereen Heritage Centre) reached out to us few weeks back wishing to connect with Princess Yasmin Aga Khan to inform her of this great history of Ireland and the role her maternal side of the family has played. With the help of Sadruddin Noorani (Chicago, USA), we were able to successfully connect Princess Yasmin with Terri Kearney. Terri also helped us tremendously in formulating this post for our publication.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s great-great-grandfather saves important Irish Famine letter

The maternal great-great-grandfather of Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Patrick Aloysius O’Hare, took a copy of a very important letter with him when he emigrated to America just after the Great Irish Famine in 1854.


The letter, written by Cork (City in Ireland) magistrate, Nicholas Cummins in 1846, was instrumental in raising much-needed aid during that terrible crisis which cost one million Irish lives, and caused 1.5 million Irish people to migrate out of Ireland.

“At Skibbereen, the Dispensary Doctor found seven wretches lying unable to move under the same cloak. One had been dead many hours, but the others were unable to move either themselves or the corpse”, so wrote Nicholas Cummins in an open letter addressed to the Duke of Wellington, published in the Times of London on Christmas Eve 1846.

The letter went on to be reprinted in many newspapers across Ireland, Britain and America and was widely used during Famine fundraising appeals.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s maternal family kept this letter as a ‘precious possession‘ for well over a century until her grand-uncle, Vinton Hayworth, sent it back to the Mayor of Cork, his grandfather’s birthplace, in 1963 saying it would ‘please grandpa’ to see it returned to Ireland.

The letter has been held in safekeeping by Cork Public Museum since. This year, Skibbereen Heritage Centre was able to acquire the rights to place this letter on display at their centre from August onwards.

We were so excited to be able to authenticate this letter and wanted to get in touch with the Hayworth family to make them aware of it, said Terri Kearney, Manager of Skibbereen Heritage Centre. We were delighted to get in contact with Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, to tell her of the letter’s significance and her ancestor’s role in preserving it.

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Princess Yasmin Aga Khan found the whole story “fascinating” and said “it means so much to me to discover the story of this important letter and how my maternal ancestors managed to save it for posterity. I very much approve of its return to Ireland and, I hope, some day, that I might get to see it in person. Meanwhile, I will certainly learn more about this crisis of the Great Hunger to find out about what my great-great- grandfather and his mother would have experienced before they emigrated. I am so proud of the role my mother’s family played in saving this important letter and the fact that it will be on display at Skibbereen Heritage Centre.”

The letter will be on display as part of Famine Story Exhibition at Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

Learn more about “Great Irish Famine Exhibition” at Skibbereen Heritage Centre at the source:

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

2 thoughts

  1. Congrats to Ismailimail for discovering this matter and to print it, with pride for us all, that Princess Yasmin’s maternal ancestors played a great role in The Irish Famine of 19th century. Mubarak to you all at Ismailimail . Thanks so much !


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