Imperial Remembers Douglass

The Imperial Hotel, Cork, celebrates Black History Month tonight with a talk on the life of Frederick Douglass, one of its past visitors. 

On 23rd of October 1845, Douglass, pivotal U.S. abolitionist and statesman, gave a speech in The Great Room at the South Mall hotel, titled “American Prejudice Against Colour”, which was widely published. Two days later, a great soiree was held for Douglass at St Patrick's Hall in the hotel. 

Hotelier Louis Fitzgerald, a keen historian, will welcome guests this evening on a walking tour of the Cork Abolitionists Trail before returning to the hotel for refreshments and a talk titled “Frederick Douglass, transatlantic abolitionism, and his October 1845 speech at the Imperial Hotel”.

The walk and talk will be led by Dr Adrian Mulligan and Dr Laurence Fenton, two members of the team from The Globe Lane Initiative / #DouglassWeek who created the Trail in 2021 with support from Cork City Council. The Trail commemorates the places where Douglass stayed and spoke during his visit to Cork, and also celebrates the city’s rich abolitionist history.

The Imperial Hotel will also launch a newly renovated executive guest lounge tonight, which was named and decorated in honour of Frederick Douglass. It features a portrait of Douglass, reading materials, and framed lyrics of an old Irish verse performed by local poet Daniel Casey as a gesture of welcome to Frederick Douglass from the Anti-Slavery Society.

Abigail Rowe, who is both The Imperial Hotel’s in-house historian and its food and beverage administrator, has been instrumental in ensuring historical accuracy in recounting the Frederick Douglass story and connection and has curated all of the wording and artwork used in the renovated lounge.