The Longest Rebellion by Chris Lawlor

The Longest Rebellion by Chris Lawlor

The Longest Rebellion: The Dunlavin Massacre and Michael Dwyer and West Wicklow, 1797-1803

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The 1798 Rebellion was a decisive moment in Irish history. It shaped Loyalist and Republican attitudes for generations afterwards. Although the enormity of the rebellion and its legacy cannot be overstated, the event itself was short-lived. The savagery of the fighting lasted through one fateful summer. By its end the insurrection was totally subdued. Yet there was one area in the west of County Wicklow where the rebellion was not subdued. The violence here lasted five and a half years and only ended when the rebels freely laid down their arms in December 1803. It was centred on Dunlavin parish, which stretches from the County Kildare border to the summit of Lugnaquilla, Leinster's highest mountain.The picturesque village of Dunlavin was the scene of a horrific massacre on the very first day of the 1798 Rebellion. Thirty six unarmed and defenceless prisoners, arrested before the rebellion broke out, who had played no part in the hostilities were shot on the village green. Other prisoners were hanged from the pillars of the village market house.This book explores the tensions that existed in the area before the massacre.

It provides an account of the causes of the massacre and a study of the key personalities involved. The events of the fateful day are examined and the consequences of the event are analysed. One of the principal consequences was the guerrilla campaign waged by Michael Dwyer and his rebel band in the Wicklow Mountains. This book also follows the activities of Dwyer, born in the Glen of Imaal, who fought in Wexford during the 1798 Rebellion. Following the defeat of the rebel armies, Dwyer retreated into the wilderness of the Wicklow Mountains. From here he waged a relentless guerrilla campaign for more than five years.Eventually, with no hope of help from Napoleonic France, Dwyer arranged terms with the authorities and ended his resistance in December 1803. The rebel leader expected to be given safe passage to America, but he was held in Kilmainham Jail and transported to Australia in 1805, where further adventures awaited him. This book makes extensive use of many primary sources including archival material and folk ballads. Numerous contemporary documents and poems are reproduced in the text.

It is an excellent work of reference and a welcome addition to the literature covering the 1798 Rebellion and its aftermath, as well as a treasured memento for future generations.


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