The Cambria – Donal O’Kelly – 8 pm Saturday

Donal O’Kelly’s THE CAMBRIA has toured successfully to New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Liverpool, Harare Zimbabwe and  Lusaka Zambia, as well as many venues throughout Ireland, north and south. 

 Admission is free but to people who have reserved admission here on Eventbrite will have priority admission

The Cambria was a trans-Atlantic paddle-steamer. On August 10th 1845, among the passengers on board was an escaped slave called Frederick Douglass. His autobiography had just become a bestseller. Slave-owners placed a price on his head and he was forced to flee the US. He headed for Ireland.


It was an eventful voyage, culminating in a mob attempt to throw Douglass overboard. The Cambria tells the story of how he survived to become what Abraham Lincoln called “the most impressive man I ever met”, and  the most influential African-American public figure of the 19th century.


Frederick Douglass was welcomed as a hero in Ireland and his powers of oratory saw him become known as ‘The Black O’Connell’, after his friend and lifelong anti-slavery campaigner Daniel O’Connell MP, with whom he spoke on several platforms.


The Cambria is not just a historical piece. It starts and finishes in Dublin Airport today, where a teacher finds that her Nigerian pupil has just been deported. Douglass’s time-honoured quote resonates: “Power concedes nothing without demand; it never did, and it never will”.


The Cambria ran to rave reviews in The Irish Arts Centre New York, in collaboration with the Classical Theatre of Harlem. A radio version came fifth in the Prix Europa 2014, and was broadcast in English and Swedish on Swedish state broadcaster UR in 2016. The Cambria is published in Staging Intercultural Ireland edited by Charlotte McIvor and Matthew Spangler, Cork University Press 2014.


Performed by Sorcha Fox and Donal O’Kelly, with sound design by Trevor Knight. Direction based on original direction by Raymond Keane.