Irish-Australian history programme ‘An Dubh ina Gheal (Assimilation)’ – TG4, 30 December



An Dubh ina Gheal (Assimilation) explores the relationship between the Indigenous Australians and the Irish in Australia.  At a time when many Irish people have emigrated to Australia, the connection between the two countries is as strong as ever, and stories about the Irish in Australia have never been more topical. This documentary offers a unique portrayal of Australia that is quite different from the stereotypes we often see on television.


The Irish poet Louis de Paor is the presenter and co-writer and his poetry is incorporated into the narrative. He lived in Australia for ten years in the 1980s where he composed Didjeridu and An dubh ina gheal (Assimilation). These poems have powerful things to say about indigenous Australians, whom he feels a natural affinity with as an indigenous Irishman. Yet, as Didjeridu acknowledges, the Gael, as a founding people in the story of white Australia, were also complicit in the dispossession of Aboriginal people.


In this documentary, against the backdrop of a colonial history with devastating consequences for indigenous Australians, Louis explores the complex relationship between Aboriginal people and the Irish. At the heart of this exploration is the story of the Stolen Generations, mixed race children who were taken away from their families under assimilation policies. 


On this journey Louis meets with many Indigenous men and women including; political activist Gary Foley who was one of the ‘Shamrock Aborigines’ and instrumental in the civil rights movements of the 1970s, Bill Brock Byrne who was taken away from his Aboriginal mother when he was only 7 years old and Kev Carmody, another child of Aboriginal and Irish descent who became a member of the Stolen Generations. Kev, who is a singer/songwriter appeared on a list of the top 100 Irish Australians which was published by the Irish Echo, a list that included Ned Kelly