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The Frederick Douglass Lounge

An Executive Guest Lounge in honour of the abolitionist, reformer and stateman, Frederick Douglass

"Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle.
I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man."


Fredrick Douglass' Life

Frederick Douglass, born into slavery in 1817 Maryland, became a pivotal figure in its abolition. His drive for
education, and his will to escape his bonds, led to an extraordinary life, seeing him serving as adviser to
President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. During Reconstruction he became the highest ranking
Black official of his time and advocated for full civil rights for Black people as well as for women. He
also lays claim to being the most photographed man of the nineteenth century.

Douglass in Cork

In 1845 Douglass published his autobiography 'Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, American Slave',
which rendered him vulnerable to arrest. Douglass embarked on a lengthy tour of Ireland and Great Britain
delivering a series of lectures and talks on abolition.

The city of Cork had an active Anti-Slavery Society dating back to 1826. They were a cross-denominational
group bringing in speakers, raising awareness and funds, and sending material aid to the a Boston Anti-
Slavery Bazaar. Douglass, enthusiastically invited for such events, arrived in Cork on the 10th October 1845.
His stay was originally intended to span 10 days, but he enjoyed Cork so much it stretched to some 3 weeks.
He gave 12 talks and lectures over this period, took a temperance vow from Father Mathew, and made good
friends, particularly with the Lord Mayor Richard Dowden.

On 23rd October 1845, in 'Mr McDowell's Great Room', now the Frederick Douglass lounge, Douglass gave
a speech entitled 'American Prejudice Against Colour' to much acclaim amongst local dignitaries and
concerned parties. Extensively advertised in the press, the event was a huge success, with the speech widely
published and disseminated afterwards.

After a 3 week stay, Frederick Douglass left Cork carrying a gold ring, the gift of Mayor Dowden, and a song
written in his honour by local bard Daniel Casey. A apocryphal tale tells that when Douglass died in
1895, he was wearing the ring from Cork.

Imperial Coincidence - Frederick Douglass chose his name from a favourite novel, The Lady of the
Lake, whose author, Sir Walter Scott, was a guest at the Imperial 20 years earlier!

Frederick Douglass on his feelings about Cork City

"And never shall I think of Cork—without—remembering that yourself and
the kind Friends ... constituted the sourse from whense flowed much of the light, life and warmth of humanity which I found in that good city."

- Letter to Richard Dowden, 11th November 1845


The Frederick Douglass Lounge

Today, the Frederick Douglass Lounge retains its period character, strong historical identity from its light reading on Frederick Douglass, a glimpse into a timeline of his life, a library of books, and undoubtedly, the stories within the walls. 

The Frederick Douglass Lounge is open exclusively to guests of the hotel.

To read more about Frederick Douglass and his time in Cork click the button below. 

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