Dunlavin Green


In the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight
A sorrowful tale the truth unto you I’ll relate
Of thirty-six heroes to the world were left to be seen
By a false information were shot on Dunlavin Green

Bad luck to you Saunders, for you did their lives betray
You said a parade would be held on that very day
Our drums they did rattle – our fifes they did sweetly play
Surrounded we were and privately marched away

Quite easy they led us as prisoners through the town
To be slaughtered on the plain, we were then forced to kneel down
Such grief and such sorrow were never before there seen
When the blood ran in streams down the dykes of Dunlavin Green

There is young Matty Farrell has plenty of cause to complain
Also the two Duffy’s who were also shot down on the plain
And young Andy Ryan, his mother distracted will run
For her own brave boy, her beloved eldest son

Bad luck to you, Saunders, may bad luck never you shun
That the widow’s curse may melt you like the snow in the sun
The cries of the orphans whose murmurs you cannot screen
For the murder of their dear fathers on Dunlavin Green

Some of our boys to the hills, they are going away
Some of them are shot and some of them going to sea
Micky Dwyer in the mountains to Saunders, he owes a spleen
For his loyal brothers who were shot on Dunlavin Green

Wicklow 1

Songs of Wcklow


The massacre of Dunlavin Green refers to the summary execution on 24th May 1978 of 36 suspected rebel prisoners by the British military.

For several months prior to May 1798, County Wicklow and many other areas of the country had been subject to martial law which had been imposed in an effort to crush the long threatened rebellion of the United Irishmen. The campaign was also extended against the military itself as some corps of yeomen and militia, especially those with Catholic members, were suspected as United Irish infiltrators who had joined to get training and arms. Several days before the outbreak of the rebellion, the yeomanry and militia at Dunlavin were called out on parade and informed by their commanding officer, Captain Saunders of Stratford-on-Slaney, that it had been brought to his attention that there were sworn United Irishmen among them. Urging those who had sworn to confess, some twenty-eight did so on the promise of clemency but were immediately arrested and imprisoned with several subjected to flogging in an effort to extract information about the rebels plans and organisation.

After hearing of an attack on Ballymore-Eustace, Captain Saunders marched the twenty-eight imprisoned soldiers and eight civilians accused of rebel sympathies to the town green where they were lined up and executed in batches of five. The motive appears to have been simple revenge rather than fear of the prisoners escape.

Dunlavin Green