Hero or Traitor?

STORY SYNOPSIS for ‘Hero or Traitor?’ by Michael P. Pierce

The virtual unknown story of a protestant farmer of English descent who ends up becoming a revolutionary who led the Irish rebels in their fight for independence from the English in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

This rebellion had a major influence in shaping Ireland’s plight for political freedom and independence from England which was achieved 123 years later under The Irish-Anglo Treaty.

The story tells what drives people to rebel and in particular what caused Joseph Holt to rebel against an English political system that he was a part of.

Joseph went on to become General Holt, Commander in Chief of The United Irishmen in 1798. Historians and researchers estimate that between 30,000 and 50,000 people were killed in the space of six months during the struggles of 1798.

The story is told in the first person because it is based on the subject’s own original memoirs.

‘Hero or Traitor?’ is volume one of two volumes.

General Holt ended up being sent into political exile in Botany Bay, Australia in 1799, where his life in the colony was as colourful and adventurous as it was in Ireland. Volume two is set in Australia.

This is a true story based on real events which to date have virtually been overlooked in history. It is a story that deserves to be told and heard. A hero to some and a traitor to others? You decide!

Michael P. Pierce, Writer/Author, is a distant nephew of Gen. Joseph Holt on his mother’s side.


Comments about this page

  • I read Holt’s Memoirs in two volumes many years ago. Edited by Crofton Croker, an ingrate of Dublin Castle, who concentrated on trying to ridicule Holt with snide footnotes at the end of many of the pages.

    Then in 1998 Australian Peter O’Shaughnessy, published Holts story, untarnished from a manuscript he found in an Australian Library. Having read most, if not all, other accounts of the 1798 Rebellion by Miles Byrne, Luke Cullen, Mrs. Leadbetter, Campion etc., I never found any evidence that Holt was anything other than an incredibly brave and heroic Patriot.

    Given that Ireland’s worst enemies have always been the informer, spy, sycophant and carriers of rumours within communities, I would give no credence to any suggestion that Holt was anything other than a National Hero.

    He was forced to turn from his Protestant community by the action of Hunter Gowan, who burned down Holt’s farm to settle an old score, which lead to Holt having to hide out in the mountains where he fell in with United Irish Rebels and became their leader.

    Therefore, any negative rumours about Holt’s character are more likely to derive from his own Ascendancy Protestant Class, against whom he led many of the 50,000 United Irish army who fought for six months across Leinster. Or from the Dublin, which failed to rise at all as planned.


    By Paul Newsome (06/01/2020)

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