Seventeen Ninety Eight Memorial

At the foot of the 9mtr Celtic cross that rises into the air from the middle of the memorial is the following inscription:

 Who was Michael Dwyer?

Michael Dwyer was born in Wicklow, Ireland, in 1772.  He took part in the 1798 Rising against English rule.  When it ended with the battle of Vinegar Hill in Wexford he returned to the Wicklow  mountains and continued the fight against the English forces.  They cut roads through the mountains to aid his capture.  He had many narrow escapes.  He was helped by his fellow countrymen.  Many of  the militia also did not want to see him captured as they received good money as they were supposed to be searching for him..

On 14 December 1803 Dwyer, along with his lieutenants, Martin Burke, Hugh Byrne and Arthur Devlin surrendered on condition that they be sent to America.   John Mernagh was captured in February.  In 1806 the Government sent the five of them to Australia on the Telicherry .  Michael was accompanied by his wife, Mary, whom he had married in November 1798.  They had to leave their  four children behind in Ireland with Michael's parents.

They were transported as state prisoners, not as convicts.  Governor King granted each of the five one hundred acres of land along Cabramatta Creek, outside of Sydney.

In 1810 Governor Macquarie named Dwyer as one of three new constables to serve the Georges River area.  In May 1820 he was made chief constable of Liverpool with three constables under him.  He lost the post when charged with drunkenness in October of the same year.  In 1822 he obtained a licence to set up an inn in his home.  He called it The Harrow, after an engagement in the 1798 Rising.

He died in 1825 and was buried in the Devonshire Street cemetery, near the City..  It is surprising that he was not buried in the nearby Liverpool cemetery.  We can only assume that the Irish community wanted to do the right thing by the Wicklow Chief and bury him properly.

He left behind at The Harrow his wife Mary and the three children, who were born in Australia, his 18 year old son James, and his two daughters, Brigid 17 and Eliza 13.  The four children, who had been born in Ireland, arrived in Australia in 1828.  He had applied for them to join him in 1825 before his death.  They were Mary Ann and John, born in 1799 and 1801, and Peter and Esther, born in 1802 and 1804.  They had been left in the care of Michael's parents when their parents sailed in the Tellicherry.

.After Michael's death Mary, with her daughters Brigid and Eliza, went to keep house in Sydney for Fr John Joseph Therry, the first officially recognised priest in Sydney..

When in 1837 Brigid married John O'Sullivan who had come to Australia on the same ship as tthe Dwyer boys, John and Peter, Mary went to live with her in Goulburn and it appears she lived there until her death in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, on 12 June 1860.  She was buried in the Devonshire Street cemetery with Michael.  She was 95 years old at the time.

For more information about the Dwyer descendants we can recommend a book 'The Rebel of Glenmalure - a history of  Michael Dwyer' by George Cargeeg.  It was published in 1988 by the  Hesperian Press, 65 Oats Street, Carlisle, 6101, Western Australia.  It gives the details about Dwyer's children, whom they married and what children they had.. 

The Grave of Michael and Mary Dwyer at Devonshire Street cemetery.


The Grave of Michael Dwyer

  By Katharine Tynan

I wish you slept where your kin are sleeping

 The dove-gray valley is sweet;

And the holy mountains their strange watch keeping

 Would love you lying at their feet,

 The dewy grass for your winding sheet.

You would sleep soundly, your sad lips smiling,

 Dreaming, and hearing still

The bonny blackbird with song beguiling,

 The rain's light feet on the hill,

 The children's laughter merry and shrill.

I have a fern that hath waved above you,

 Just at your green grave's head,

Sent to me by one who doth love you;

 Many a prayer she said,

 Kneeling long by your lonely bed.

And now I weave of my idle fancies,

 All for the love of you,

A wreath of passion-flowers and of pansies

 Twined with shamrock and bitter rue,

 To lie on the grave I never knew.

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