Wuhan disaster of 1931 by Donal Kennedy

Wuhan disaster of 1931 – Maynooth Mission to China/Columban Mission:

Wuhan = Hanyang/Hankow/Wuchan

” …Perhaps more interesting are the conclusions of Chinese historian Shan Yuwu, who researched the Columban archives. He notes how the Irish missionaries hated colonialism and concludes that the Columbans deeply sympathised with the Chinese people. Every year from 1920 onwards, a new class of c. 25 Columban priests were ordained and went to China. From 1926, with the establishment of the Columban Sisters, groups of newly professed sisters joined them.

The Columban Sisters brought particular skills with them: they were teachers and nurses, and some were doctors. These skills proved invaluable when the Yangtze River burst its banks in the spring of 1931, flooding an area twice the size of Ireland. At least two million died, with some estimates suggesting that four million lives were lost. Either way, it was—and still is—the worst natural disaster in human history. Bishop Edward Galvin was put in charge of the official emergency relief committee in the tri-city area of Hanyang, Hankow and Wuchan on the Yangtze (now called Wuhan), organising clinics in the refugee camps and coordinating food supplies. The missionaries proved to be an important link to the outside world, raising funds for flood victims. China, which was traditionally hostile to foreign intervention, welcomed the international help.

The Far East reported on the flood relief efforts:

‘God alone knows what is in store for these three cities … people are crowding in from the country—an endless stream of refugees … 23 million people that will have to be fed for at least six months.’


(The Far East, along with the Messenger of the Sacred Heart, were subscribed to in most houses I think. Quite well written. Perhaps not actually read very much.)

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