“Michael Dwyer (I)”


"At length brave Michael Dwyer and his undaunted men Were scented o'er the mountains and tracked into the glen." Dwyer and three men are trapped by the British in a house afire. One, wounded, tries to delay the police, but only Dwyer escapes


Moylan: "Michael Dwyer was a Wicklow man, a member of the United Irishmen, who fought during the 1798 rebellion, and who waged a guerilla war in the Wicklow mountains for several years afterwards."

Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan: "Michael Dwyer (1771-1826) is a genuinely romantic figure in Irish history. An outlaw 'on his keeping' in the Wicklow hills after the rebellion of 1798 he is remembered by the folk is the same light as Robin Hood or Jessie James are in other traditions." - BS

Sullivan is the author of a number of Irish patriotic poems, of which "God Save Ireland" is probably the best-known. Dwyer also attracted the attention of that militant writer, Peadar Kearney, who produced the Irish national anthem "The Soldier's Song," as well as such pieces as "Whack Fol the Diddle (God Bless England)."

As a historical figure, Dwyer was less important; of the five histories I checked, only Robert Kee's _The Green Flag_ mentions him, and only to note that he was a Catholic (unlike many leaders of the 1798 rebellion), and that after the United Irish collapse, he fought on in the Wicklow Mountains until about the time of Robert Emmet's rebellion.

According to the _Oxford Companion to Irish History_, his dates were 1771-1826; he surrendered to the British in 1803 and was transported to Australia. He became High Constable of Sydney in 1815. He does not seem to have been notable in that post (none of my histories of Australia mention him) -- but I find it somewhat ironic to imagine the former outlaw commanding the forces responsible for tracking down outlaws and bushrangers. - RBW

Historical references

  • February 15, 1799 - Michael Dwyer escapes from the Glengarry Regiment (source: Moylan)

Cross references


  • Tom Lenihan, "Michael O'Dwyer" (on IRTLenihan01)


  1. O'Conor, pp. 44-45, "Michael Dwyer" (1 text)
  2. Moylan 142, "Michael Dwyer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan 30, "Michael O'Dwyer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. PGalvin, pp. 95-96, "Michael Dwyer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #5219
  6. BI, PGa095


Author: Timothy Daniel Sullivan (1827-1914)
Earliest date: 1901 (O'Conor)
Found in: Ireland