Why Australia still dances to an Irish tune

What impact have successive waves of Irish immigration had on Australian art and culture?

Dead Centre’s Lippy at Abrons Arts Center with Irish Arts Center. Photo Credit: Jeremy Abrahams.​

The centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising – the short-lived rebellion against British rule which ultimately led to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland – has been widely celebrated this year, including several Australian tours facilitated by the Embassy of Ireland. Such celebrations are more than appropriate given the strong historical connections between Ireland and Australia, which began with Irish-born convicts arriving on the First Fleet in New South Wales in 1788.

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Richard Watts OAM is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, a Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend, and was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize in 2020. In 2021 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Green Room Awards Association. Most recently, Richard received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in June 2024. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts