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The Longest Rebellion: West Wicklow, Dunlavin massacre and Michael Dwyer 1798-1803.



The 1798 Rebellion was a decisive moment in Irish history and it shaped both 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 the end of which the insurrection was totally crushed. Yet there was one area in the west of county Wicklow where the rebellion was not subdued. In fact, the violence here lasted fully five and a half years and only ended when the rebels freely laid down their arms in December 1803. The area in question is centred on Dunlavin parish and 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, who had been arrested before the rebellion broke out and who played no part in the hostilities were shot on the village green. Other prisoners were hanged from the pillars of the village market house. 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. 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.


204 pp.


‘Lawlor’s book should rank as one of the best [on the 1798 Rebellion]’. Studies Journal.

The Longest Rebellion

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