Rebel who kept up the fight

Ruán O’Donnell reviews In Search of Michael Dwyer by Chris Lawlor, Chris Lawlor £10.35 (15 euros) pbk

CHRIS LAWLOR, a teacher in Kildare, is one of the most industrious local historians of county Wicklow.

The mountainous geography of Wicklow and its proximity to Dublin has ensured that the county experienced a very high level of political insurgency, particularly between the late 1500s and 1803 when the resistance of the O’Byrne clan and others complicated life for the colonial authorities in Dublin.

The county was ravaged by the rebellion of 1798 and sustained more damage to loyalist property than any with the exception of neighbouring Wexford.

The rebellion continued in the form of an often intense guerrilla war for five years and this book concerns its most noted figure, Michael Dwyer of Imaal.

Lawlor has drawn freely on several recent publications to produce a very readable and reliable short account of the life and exploits of Dwyer. This follows the Wicklowman from his upbringing through 1798, the Rising of 1803 and exile in New South Wales, Australia.

The book is well noted and illustrated for an account of its focus and dimensions and Lawlor has a keen eye for often overlooked local sources.

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