Paul Irish

Consultant Archaeologist
BA (Archaeology) University of Sydney
MA (Prehistoric Archaeology) University of Copenhagen [Denmark]

I am a principal consultant with Mary Dallas Consulting Archaeologists. I have been working for over a decade in and around Sydney as a consultant archaeologist in relation to Aboriginal heritage. As part of my job I conduct archaeological surveys and excavations together with Aboriginal community groups, and research the Aboriginal history and archaeology of areas proposed for some kind of development. I have a particular archaeological interest in the Kurnell Peninsula in southern Sydney, where I have worked on a number of excavations, and been involved in research examining the use of the coast by Aboriginal people in this area at large shell midden sites.

I have also always had a strong interest in Sydney’s Aboriginal history, running a historical research program at Sydney Olympic Park in 2002-2005, and researching in my spare time. In 2011 I commenced a PhD (first at ANU, and currently at UNSW) looking at the history of Aboriginal people in south-eastern Sydney in the mid to late 19th century. I also am interested in looking at how this history and its archaeology combine to produce tangible physical reminders of the survival of Aboriginal people across Sydney’s urban landscape. This has implications for my own work, as post-European contact Aboriginal archaeology is a neglected part of Australia’s rich heritage, particularly in urban areas. It excites me to know that there are still many stories about Sydney, and particularly its Aboriginal past, that can be told through archives, archaeology and especially the knowledge still held by Aboriginal people today.