In 1845, as Ireland was descending into the despair of the great famine, Frederick Douglass arrived for a four-month lecture tour of the island. Douglass had escaped slavery in Maryland seven years earlier, and had recently published his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Douglass was greeted in Dublin, Belfast, and Cork by enthusiastic crowds and formed many friendships on his trip, most significantly with Daniel O'Connell, a figure still revered in Ireland today for his role in Catholic emancipation and his fierce opposition to slavery. O'Connell and Douglass shared the stage just once, in September 1845 at a rally in Dublin, but retained a mutual respect and affection until O'Connell's death less than two years later - and Douglass acknowledged O'Connell's influence on his philosophy and worldview for the rest of his life.
The Frederick Douglass/Daniel O'Connell Project is a living legacy to the leadership of these two men and the causes they championed by strengthening the bonds of friendship between Ireland and the United States, encouraging greater understanding between the diasporas of Africa and Ireland in America, and fighting injustice and human rights abuses throughout the world.
- 04/23/2014: The Frederick Douglass/Daniel O'Connell Project is honored that U.S. Representative John Lewis will deliver the inaugural Douglass/O'Connell Address on 23 April 2014 at Iveagh House in Dublin. We are also honored to partner with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland, and the Faith & Politics Institute on this first in a series of events centered around civil and human rights issues. Please contact the Project Directors below for more details
- 02/07/2013: The Douglass/O'Connell Project will sponsor a symposium on Frederick Douglass, Ireland, and Daniel O'Connell in New Bedford, Massachusetts (PDF).
- 03/20/2012: Representatives from the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Frederick Douglass/Daniel O'Connell Project to attend White House St. Patrick's Day celebration.
- 03/06/2012: The Frederick Douglass/Daniel O'Connell Project and the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives are saddened by the passing of Representative Donald M. Payne (D-NJ).
- 05/24/2011: Irish and African Americans changed US history
- 05/24/2011: All parties got what they wanted despite brevity of visit
- 5/13/2011: Relatives of Obama's hero lay wreath to O'Connell
- 03/09/2011: Connections with west Belfast
(Leargas by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams)
For more information, please contact:
Founder and Ireland Director:
Don Mullan, Don Mullan & Associates
11 Hillsbrook Crescent, Perrystown, Dublin 12 Ireland
Founder and U.S. Director:
Kristin M. Leary, Leary Ventures
Post Office Box 11142, Washington, DC 20008 U.S.A.
"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."
"The principle of my political life ... is that all amelioration and improvements in political institutions can be obtained by persevering in a perfectly peaceable and legal course, and cannot be obtained by forcible means, or if they could be got by forcible means, such means create more evils than they cure, and leave the country worse than they found it."
"For his part, Douglass drew inspiration from the Irishman's courage and intelligence, ultimately modeling his own struggle for justice on O'Connell's belief that change could be achieved peacefully through rule of law ... the two men shared a universal desire for freedom - one that cannot be contained by language or culture or even the span of an ocean."
We are honored to partner with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) and will continue to develop programming and other initiatives with FDFI.
Advisory Committee (in formation):
- Nettie Washington Douglass and Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Founders, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, Georgia and California
- Jimmy Dennihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Republic of Ireland
- Governor Martin O'Malley, Maryland
- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
- U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley, New York
- U.S. Representative John Lewis, Georgia
- U.S. Representative Richard E. Neal, Massachusetts
- U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, In Memorium, New Jersey
- Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council
- Dr. Bill Rolston, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Northern Ireland
- Dr. Robert M. Mauro, Director, Irish Institute, Boston College Center for Irish Programs, Massachusetts
- Professor Thomas Hachey, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Irish Programs, Massachusetts
- Professor Christine Kinealy, Founding Director, Ireland's Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University; Author, Daniel O'Connell and Slavery (2011), New Jersey
- Colum McCann, National Book Award Winning Author, New York
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author and Historian, Massachusetts
- Terry O'Sullivan, General President, Laborers' International Union of North America, Washington, D.C.
- Patrick McLaughlin, President, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
- James Boland, General President, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Washington, D.C.
- Gabriel Byrne, Irish Cultural Ambassador to the United States, New York
- Dr. Brenda Flanagan, Davidson College, United States Cultural Ambassador, North Carolina
- Della Reese, California
- Roma Downey, California
- Bridget Martin, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Deirdre Mullan, RSM, Mercy Global Concern at the United Nations, New York
- Carol Wheeler, Washington, D.C.
- Mary V. Foley, Virginia
- Sean Sweeney, Washington, DC