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A Revolutionary Village



In his play The Quare Fella, Brendan Behan famously named an old republican prisoner

‘Dunlavin’. In doing so, Behan acknowledged the republican reputation and revolutionary

tradition of the West Wicklow village. Here, for the first time, is the story of that village

during the years of the Irish Revolution. Many historians think that the county is not the best

unit to use for studies of the local past, but much of the historiography of the Irish Revolution

is either based on the county or on significant personalities or events. This ground-breaking

study of a single West Wicklow village and its environs during the pivotal historical period

1900-25 is unique and constitutes a true micro-history of the revolutionary era.


The book treats of the international and national political background before moving on to

examine social and economic life in Dunlavin during the early twentieth century. Religious

and political differences are uncovered and the advent of many new political movements in the

region is discussed. A detailed examination of the impact of the First World War on the local

area is followed by an examination of Dunlavin’s experience during the Easter Rising and its

aftermath. An assessment of the rise of Sinn Fein and the party’s landmark victory in the 1918

general election (when Dunlavin was in the grip of the great influenza pandemic) leads on to

evaluations of both the War of Independence and the Civil War. Dunlavin’s Civil War

experience is placed in a wider West Wicklow context before the book examines the return of

peace and the new reality of Dunlavin taking its place within the Irish Free State. A new era

of domestic political sovereignty had dawned in the much-altered West Wicklow village.


The book contains 53 illustrations and 19 appendices, including press reports of meetings

held to establish various political organisations in the village, with the original speeches

reproduced. There are lists of the heads of households in Dunlavin in both 1901 and 1911, lists

of the members of the three I.R.A. companies in which Dunlavin volunteers served during the

War of Independence and lists of the Anti-Treaty I.R.A. in these companies during the Civil

War. The appendices enhance the book and provide much valuable background information.


344 pp.

A Revolutionary Village

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