Quinnipiac University

Irish scholar at Quinnipiac creates map that traces Frederick Douglass’ walking route in Dublin

May 20, 2021

Christine Kinealy Professor of History and Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute

Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and professor of history, has created a historical map that traces Frederick Douglass’ walking route through Dublin, Ireland.

The project, “Frederick Douglass Way, Ireland,” was funded by a grant to the institute from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland. The Consulate General of Ireland in New York and the African American Irish Diaspora Network hosted a virtual launch of the map on May 14. The launch included a one-hour live webinar.

In August 1845, Douglass, then a 27-year-old American man designated by his government to be a fugitive slave, arrived in Dublin. Douglass had intended to stay in the city for four days, but the warmth of the welcome he received meant that he stayed in Ireland for four months. He described his time in the country as “transformative” and the “happiest time of his life.”

Kinealy, author of the book, “Black Abolitionists in Ireland,” said the map highlights 10 locations in Dublin visited by Douglass, including the home of Daniel O'Connell, an Irish nationalist and transatlantic abolitionist and a hero to Douglass and many other enslaved peoples; the Mansion House, home to the Lord Mayor of Dublin where Douglass was invited to dine; and the EPIC Emigration museum (then a warehouse for ship cargo), which was possibly the first place Douglass saw when he arrived in Dublin. The area is also home to Rowan Gillespie's stunning famine statues that acknowledge the suffering and start of the Great Hunger in Ireland in 1845.

“While in Ireland, Douglass experienced a sense of freedom and equality that he had never felt before,” Kinealy said. “But he was also shocked by the poverty that he witnessed. His time in Ireland was an important step in Douglass’ road to becoming an international champion of human rights, whose words and wisdom remain relevant today.”

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