-- On Dec. 17, 1803
, rebel leader Michael Dwyer, whose guerrilla attacks had maddened British colonial authorities since 1798, surrendered. Dwyer was born in County Wicklow and he participated in the 1798 Rising
; however, unlike most of the leaders and soldiers in that Rising, he did not either leave the country or return to his normal life, nor was he captured. Dwyer retreated into the Wicklow Mountains with a band of men and drove the British to distraction in their attempts to apprehend him.
A reward was placed on Dwyer's head and another for each of his men, but he led the British authorities on a merry chase for 5 years, with many daring narrow escapes, each adding to his legend. Some called him the 'Outlaw of Glenmalure.' In 1803 he planed to assist Robert Emmet in his rising but he never received the signal to join the rising. At this point he recognized the futility of his situation, and he also wished to relieve the suffering of a number of his family members, including his sister, whom had been jailed for no offense other than their family relationship to him. Some claim that when he contacted the British to ask terms of surrender Dwyer was promised he and his men would be sent to the United States.
If so, and not for the first time, their word to an Irishman proved worthless. After 2 years of brutal treatment in Kilmainham Jail, under the infamous Edward Trevor, Dwyer was transported to Botany Bay
. Dwyer and his family, along with a number of his men, set sail for Australia
on board the Tellicherry
on August 25, 1805; however, the story of Michael Dwyer does not end there. In Sydney, Dwyer ran afoul of the Governor, a certain Capt. William Bligh, of Bounty
fame. Bligh accused Dwyer of being the leader of a rebellious plot involving other United Irishmen in the area, which, if true, would certainly not have been out of character.
Bligh shipped Dwyer off to Norfolk Island, one of the worst hellholes of the British penal system in Australia. After 6 months he was transferred to Tasmania, where he remained for another 2 years. In 1808 Bligh left the Governorship and Dwyer finally made it back to his family in Sydney and was granted 100 acres of land nearby. Like many transported Irish rebels, he eventually became part of the local establishment and, in a bit of irony, the 'Outlaw of Glenmalure' was appointed constable. Michael Dwyer died in 1825, but his wife lived to be 93, not dying until 1861. With her passed the last connection to the 'boys of '98' in Australia. Dwyer remains a legend among the people of the Wicklow Mountains to this day.