On the morning of President Barack Obama’s visit to Ireland, VULGO is delighted to highlight the 19th Century Irish welcome given by Daniel O’Connell (who invited him for tea in Dublin’s City Hall), and the Irish people to the important writer, orator, abolitionist, and one-time slave, Frederick Douglass.
Douglass, a source of inspiration for President Obama, penned the seminal “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave written by Himself”, which you can read online here, or purchase a copy here.
In Ireland Frederick Douglass found a kindred spirit in Daniel O’Connell, advocate of universal emancipation. On March 31st, 1845, in a speech in the Conciliation Hall, Dublin, before the Loyal National Repeal Association, O’Connell said “no matter under what specious term it may disguise itself, slavery is still hideous. It has a natural, an inevitable tendency to brutalize every noble faculty of man”.
Camel Productions’ documentary ‘Frederick Douglass and the White Negro’, to be broadcast on TG4 this Wednesday, tells the story of this 19th century Martin Luther King’s time in Ireland – his escape from slavery, leading to refuge across the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine. The film focuses on the powerful influence Ireland had on him as a young man, and explores the turbulent relationship between African Americans and Irish Americans in general.
Douglass wrote of his escape to Ireland: “I can truly say, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life…I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip telling me ‘We don’t allow niggers in here!’”
Camel Productions‘ Frederick Douglass agus Na Negroes Bána (Frederick Douglas and the White Negro) screens on TG4 Wed 25th May at 9.30pm. It will be repeated on Saturday May 28th. The documentary is produced by Catherine Lyons, written and directed by John J Doherty (the team behind Harry Clarke – Dorchadas i Solas (Darkness in Light).
“While so much has been written about Frederick Douglass, this film is a refreshingly original look at a largely unknown part of his life – his extraordinary experience in Ireland. Aside from revealing a piece of history long obscured, the film gives us a fascinating glimpse into the relations between Irish and African-Americans.” Howard Zinn
Presidedent Barack Obama is arriving in Ireland this morning, and after a trip to Moneygall, his ancestral home, will be addressing a public rally at College Green Dublin – where he, and Irish actor Brendan Gleeson will allude to Frederick Douglass.