1700-1900: Multiracial Ireland
1780-1820: Irish Roots
1600-1900: Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Britain
1900-1939 Early Twentieth Century Migration
1939-1949 Racial Mixing During and Post-WW2
1950-1970: Racial Mixing in the Era of Mass Migration
1970-1989: Racism and Daily Life
1990-2000: Inside Voices
Conclusion and Further Information

Association of Mixed Race Irish


Drawing on materials from our mutual collections alongside new research, we hope in this exhibition to provide an insight into the presence and experiences of mixed race Irish families in Britain, the range of social reactions towards them, and the social contexts in which they lived. By creating an Irish perspective within the history of racial mixing in Britain, we seek to further highlight the longstanding diverse history of Britain itself.

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1700-1900: Multiracial Ireland

While - as our exhibition shows - many mixed race Irish families formed as the result of migration to Britain, there are a number of accounts that highlight how Ireland’s own multicultural history has played a part. Scholars are increasingly discovering a more diverse racial presence in Ireland that dates back to the early modern period, including the formation of mixed race people and families.

Ireland's Early Multiracial History

Early accounts of people of colour and racial mixing

Wealthy Planters

Sending mixed race children to Ireland

Glimpses of Racial Mixing in 19th Century Ireland

Mir Aulud Ali; the 'Irish Negroes'

Mixed Race Possibilities?

Potential histories of mixedness

1780-1820: Irish Roots

While there is still work to be done to trace the types of mixed race families in Ireland hinted at in nineteenth century reports, there are a fascinating number of accounts of those who first met or were raised in Ireland before moving to other countries, including Britain.

John and Mary Jea

The 'African preacher' and his Irish wife

Sake Dean Mahomed and Jane Daly

The Indian-Irish entrepreneurs

Pablo and George Paddington

The circus performer and the priest

'Foreign' Mixed Race Couples in Ireland

Tony and Julia Small; William G. and Mary Allen

1600-1900: Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Britain

The racial and ethnic diversity that had long been a part of British life became further enhanced in the 18th century by mass Irish migration. During this period, patterns of racial mixing between Irish woman and men of colour increasingly became commonplace.

Multiracial Britain

A longstanding history

Mixed Race Relationships

Not such an unfamiliar sight

Multiracial Cities

London and Liverpool

Attitudes towards Racial Difference and Mixing

A spectrum of views

Edward and Catherine Despard

The Irish-Jamaican revolutionary couple

1900-1939 Early Twentieth Century Migration

As the 20th century unfolded, the hardening of attitudes towards race and difference began to move out of the confined circles of specialist race thinkers and scientists and into a more widespread and pervasive public discourse. Once more concerned with what was happening in the colonies, discussion on racial mixing started to focus on that occurring in Britain.

Race and Prejudice in Early 20th Century Britain

Attitudes towards racial mixing

Mixed Race Irish Families in Manchester

Early twentieth century life

John Archer

The Black Mayor of Battersea

The 1919 Race Riots

Resentment, recrimination and violence in Britain's portside communities

Irish-Chinese families in Britain

Overlooked histories

Moral Concern over Mixed Race Children in the 1930s

Prejudice and stigmatisation

South Asian Presence in Early 20th Century Britain

Sailors, students, professionals

Irish-Indian families in Britain

Aubrey Menin, Johnny Sadiq and Pat Cross

1939-1949 Racial Mixing During and Post-WW2

The arrival of Black American GIs in Britain saw fears around racial mixing in dockside communities replaced by concerns around war time ‘brown babies.’ Such narratives, however, overshadowed existing mixed race adults.

British Mixed Race Families

An initial lessening of public interest

The 'Brown Babies' of World War 2

New narratives, old attitudes: the problematising of the children of Black GIs and white British women

Beyond 'Brown Babies'

Not just GI babies: Elizabeth Anionwu

Compulsory Repatriation of Chinese Seamen in Liverpool

The forced disintegration of families in Liverpool

Lilian Bader

One of the first Black women to join the British Armed Forces

Mixed Race Adults from Irish Families

Children from the 1920s and 1930s grow up

1950-1970: Racial Mixing in the Era of Mass Migration

The advent of new post-war migrant populations from the Caribbean and South Asia in Britain in the '50s and '60s saw the wartime ‘brown babies’ issues subsumed by new anxieties around domestic racial mixing, which also involved many Irish migrants. By 1960, Britain was home to approximately one million Irish-born, making the Irish the largest national group to enter postwar Britain.

Mixed Race Irish Families in Post-war Britain

Philomena Lynott, Gus Nwanokwu and Kit de Waal

Mixed Race Irish Adults in the Post-war Public Eye

Dolores Mantez and Kenny Lynch

Mixed Race Irish Families and Adoption

The Black and Asian presence in Britain at this time saw a feverish debate emerge over race and citizenship. In 1968, the Conservative Shadow Defence Secretary Enoch Powell gave what would become known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in which he drew on vivid imagery of inevitable violence and conflict on the streets of […]

1970-1989: Racism and Daily Life

As the 1970s dawned, fears around mass immigration saw the Black and Asian presence in Britain—once again—increasingly vilified as a root cause of the country’s woes. While mixed race families were increasingly being recognised as an ordinary part of the British landscape, they also remained largely invisible in public discourse unless forming part of a ‘problem’ narrative.

Racism, Prejudice and Empowerment in the 1970s and 1980s

Racism and daily life in the 1970s and 1980s

Kevin O'Grady

A blackface portrayal of an Irish-Pakistani

Experiences of Mixed Race Irish families in the 1970s and 1980s

Gabriel Gbadamosi, Jenneba Sie-Jalloh and Second Generation Irish

The Reno, Manchester

The Mancunian nightclub with a mixed race clientale

John Conteh

A British boxing champion

Phil Lynott

The Thin Lizzy frontman of Irish and Guyanese heritage

Tara Prem

A pioneering television producer

Chris Hughton

The first black footballer to play for Ireland

1990-2000: Inside Voices

During the 1990s, a ‘new wave’ of research and representation contributed to challenging the problem narrative. Amongst these were writers whose work highlighted issues and histories of racial mixing in Britain from an ‘insider’ rather than an ‘outsider’ perspective, some incorporating their own mixed race Irish heritages into their fiction.

The Story of M, SuAndi

Poetic performance of a mixed race family history

Lara, Bernardine Evaristo

Semi-autobiographial depiction of a racially mixed English-Nigerian-Brazilian-Irish family over 150 years

Sister Josephine, Joanna Traynor

Award winning semi-autobiographical depiction of transracial adoption

Mixed race Irish heritage in the public eye

Phil Babb, Terry Phelan, Kanya King

Racial Mixing, the Irish Ethnic Group and the 2001 Census

Mixed race Irish families in official statistics

Conclusion and Further Information

Concluding thoughts, index, acknowlegements, and continuing the conversation.

Conclusion and reflections

Born of curiosity and passion, this is a small project undertaken in a very short period of time which at times raises more questions than it can answer.


This exhibition is a colloboration between AMRI and The Mixed Museum with funding provided by the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme.

Exhibition Index

Index of all panels shown in this exhibition

Contact and links

We hope you enjoy the exhibition. If you have any comments or queries, please feel free to contact us