Death or Liberty – an Australian/Irish documentary

Nature of event: Tasmanian/Irish Documentary

Where: ABC TVChannel 2/21

When: Thursday 14th January 2016 @ 9.33pm

Further information: The ABC webpage: (notable for its lack of information):;
see also:


Death or Liberty – an Australian/Irish documentaryimages-5

On the 14th January 2016, ABC TV will broadcast a version of the joint Tasmanian/Irish documentary, Death or Liberty, which tells the story of the rise of Australian democracy through the experience of political prisoners transported to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries, many of them Irish.

The film is based on the excellent book by Australian historian Tony Moore, Death or Liberty: Rebels and radicals transported to Australia 1788-1868, who is also a key part of the documentary film. ‘Death or liberty, and a ship to take us home’ was the catch cry of the largely Irish convicts – many of them United Irishmen who took part in the 1798 rebellion – who staged the Castle Hill rebellion in NSW in 1804: see: Tinteán 24/01/2013

The ABC TV website tells us little or nothing about the film. The making of the film was discussed on the ABC’s Radio National arts program ‘Books and Arts’ in October last year. Both the Tasmanian co-Director and Tony Moore discussed the origins and the making of the documentary. This can be heard here:

Death or Liberty is a joint production by the Tasmanian film company Roar Film and an Irish film house, Tile Films, which has produced a Gaelic language version – Bás nó Saoirse. The Irish and English trailers can be viewed on Tile Film’s website:

It appears that three versions of this documentary exist: a two-part TV version which has already been seen in TG4 in Ireland last October; an 80 minute film version which premiered in Launceston in November 2015; and a 57 minute TV version which is all the air time that the ABC was allegedly prepared to devote to the film.

If the latter claim is true, this is a national disgrace. A film about Australian history already shown in Ireland (and Wales) to which the ABC, with an abundance of taxpayer-funded channels, will only devote half the air time already given by Irish television. Are endless repeats of English crime dramas really that important?

Keith Harvey

Keith is a regular contributor to Tinteán





2 thoughts on “Death or Liberty – an Australian/Irish documentary

  1. That’s a must -next Thursday 14/January ABC Ch. 2/21 9.33 p.m..many thanks to Keith Harvey and to Tintean. And by the way, what’s the problem with the many readers of Tintean and the awful paucity of comments, approving, encouraging or otherwise. What a boring mob we are !

  2. Also thanks to another of Tinteán’s contributors, John Clancy, from Tasmania who also alerted the editorial team to the upcoming documentary and indeed has a small cameo part in it!

    And yes, more comments from readers of Tinteán would be most welcome! Thank you Peter for your unfailing encouragement.

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