Visiting the Irish Memorial in Waverley Cemetery
Recently we visited the Irish Memorial at Waverley cemetery in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The marble and mosaic structure was built in 1898 to commemorate the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and the part played by Michael Dwyer, ‘the Wicklow Chief’.
Michael Dwyer, born in Wicklow, Ireland, in 1772, was 26 when the 1798 Rising against English rule began. He led the English on a merry dance until December 1803, when he surrendered on condition he and his colleagues be sent to America. The English reneged and sent them to Botany Bay aboard the Tellicherry in 1806.
In the lead up to the centenary of the uprising, the Irish community in Sydney campaigned to have a memorial erected for the Wicklow Chief and his colleagues. The £2000 needed was raised by the Irish in Sydney, country towns in NSW and in Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand.
On 22 May 1898, Dwyer’s remains, and that of his wife’s, were moved from Devonshire St to the memorial in Waverley. It was the largest funeral Sydney had seen with 400 horse-drawn carriages following the hearse in a procession of 10,000 people watched by 100,000 others.
More than 100 years, the memorial still stands in tribute in by the sea.