Michael Dwyer’s Escape

Words and Music Andy Irvine

Michael Dwyer is my name. I’ll not deny the same.
In the mountains of West Wicklow I was born.
I was in a fight of late with the men of ’98
And we took Enniscorthy by storm.
When the rising was put down, we very quickly found
That in our own homes we could no longer dwell;
But many’s a lonely cave some form of comfort gave,
And the people of these mountains know us well.

The snow was falling fast and the night was far advanced
When the three safe houses came in view.
The weather was severe, but a guard was posted near,
Though the dangers on a night like this were few;
But some sneaking little spy to his master he did fly,
And may I live to even up the score,
For when we awoke, to be sure it was no joke
To find a hundred Highland soldiers at the door.

“Come out, you rebel band” cried the captain in command,
“For you do not have a prayer, not a hope.
Surrender to me now and your lives, I vow,
Will be spared the bullet and the rope.”
Says Dwyer to his men, “Boys, here we are again,
Though I’m afraid this time it cannot be denied.
It would take more than God’s grace to defend this place
From a regiment of soldiers outside.”

The house was set on fire with McAllister and Dwyer
Expecting to perish in the flames.
With the powder and the smoke, they were nearly overcome,
Crying, “A curse upon your bloody Highland games!”
From behind a stable wall, a well-aimed musket ball
Caused McAllister pain he could not hide.
As his gun was blown away, he looked down with dismay
At his arm hanging useless by his side.

He says, “Dwyer, I’m done. Hand me up your gun.
Let’s see what a spring you can make.”
As he opened the door he gave one loud roar:
“I die for my country’s sake.”
The volley rang out and Dwyer sprang forth.
Poor Sam received the fire.
O, generous and brave McAllister gave
Up his life for Michael Dwyer.

Before they could reload, he was halfway down the road
With a kilted Scotsman snapping at his heels.
The troopers held their fire till they saw what might transpire,
And they watched as Dwyer tripped him in the field.
Running like a mountain goat?o trousers, no coat?br> His bare feet were bleeding to be sure.
As he crossed the Black Banks, he offered hearty thanks
And got safely to a cave in Glenmalure.

We lost three men that day. our captain got away,
And the others surrendered on the spot.
Three of them, alas, were hanged in Baltinglass.
The others went to face the firing squad.
Dwyer fought the law, five years, maybe more,
‘Til at last to Dublin he did go,
And from there he set sail bound for New South Wales
Far from the County of Wicklow.


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