The Rising of the Moon

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A rebel with a pike

"The Rising of the Moon" is an Irish ballad recounting a battle between the United Irishmen and the British Army during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Description[edit]

The ballad's singer is told that the "pikes must be together at the rising of the moon" to engage in rebellion. The pikemen gather, but are defeated. Despite the loss, the listener is told that there are those will "follow in their footsteps" to again revolt.

The lyrics were written by John Keegan Casey who based the poem on by the failed 1798 uprising in Granard, Co Longford [1] (1846–70), the "Fenian Poet".

The ballad has been in circulation since circa 1865.[2] The earliest verifiable date found in publication is 1867.[3]

The ballad refers to the outbreak of the 1798 rebellion, as United Irish rebels convey the order to rise. The air of hope and optimism associated with the ultimately doomed rebellion was intended to provide inspiration for rebels preparing to take to the field in another ill-fated venture, the Fenian rebellion of 1867.

Multiple variants of the lyrics have been published in folk music collections.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Often sung by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem among others, the song remains popular and the tune widely recognised in Ireland today, as it is often taught in schools, played regularly at official and sporting events, and has been covered by a wide variety of musicians. The song was also covered by the American folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary on the album See What Tomorrow Brings.

In the late 19th century, the ballad was also published through the printing of broadsides.[10][11]

The ballad takes the tune of another Irish ballad, "The Wearing of the Green"[1] and was first published in Casey's 1866 collection of poems and songs A Wreath of Shamrocks.

If they aren't able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won't break you. They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show.

It is then we'll see the rising of the moon.

—final lines of the final entry of Bobby Sands' hunger strike diary[12]

Overview, terms, and variants[edit]

The Rising of the Moon

"Oh! then tell me, Shawn O'Ferrall, Tell me why you hurry so?"
"Hush ma bouchal, hush and listen", And his cheeks were all a-glow.
"I bear orders from the captain, Get you ready quick and soon,
For the pikes must be together at the risin' of the moon".
At the risin' of the moon, at the risin' of the moon,
For the pikes must be together at the risin' of the moon.

"Oh! then tell me, Shawn O'Ferrall, Where the gatherin' is to be?"
"In the ould spot by the river, Right well known to you and me.
One word more—for signal token Whistle up the marchin' tune,
With your pike upon your shoulder, By the risin' of the moon".
By the risin' of the moon, by the risin' of the moon,
With your pike upon your shoulder, by the risin' of the moon.

Out from many a mudwall cabin Eyes were watching thro' that night,
Many a manly chest was throbbing For the blessed warning light.
Murmurs passed along the valleys Like the banshee's lonely croon,
And a thousand blades were flashing at the risin' of the moon.
At the risin' of the moon, at the risin' of th moon,
And a thousand blades were flashing at the risin' of the moon.

There beside the singing river That dark mass of men was seen,
Far above the shining weapons Hung their own beloved green.
"Death to ev'ry foe and traitor! Forward! strike the marchin' tune,
And hurrah, my boys, for freedom! 'Tis the risin' of the moon".
'Tis the risin' of the moon, 'Tis the risin' of the moon,
And hurrah my boys for freedom! 'Tis the risin' of the moon.

Well they fought for poor old Ireland, And full bitter was their fate
(Oh! what glorious pride and sorrow Fill the name of Ninety-Eight).
Yet, thank God, e'en still are beating Hearts in manhood's burning noon,
Who would follow in their footsteps, At the risin' of the moon!
At the rising of the moon, at the risin' of the moon,
Who would follow in their footsteps, at the risin' of the moon.

A wreath of shamrocks: ballads, songs, and legends (1867)

Verse 1 The singer is told that men armed with pikes are gathering for an attack at moonrise.
ma bouchal: Irish language mo bhuachaill, my boy
pike: a long-poled thrusting spear
Shawn O'Ferrall/Shawn O'Farrell/Shane O'Farrell/Shaun O'Farrell
ma bouchal/my bohal

Verse 2 The men will be assembling at the river, the signal is set.

Verse 3 The assembly waits apprehensively.
banshee: Irish language bean sighe, fairy woman, an omen of death
chest/heart
blades/pikes
warning/morning
mudwall/mud-built
banshee's lonely croon/branches likely moan/branches loudly moan

Verse 4 The mass commences the assault, bearing the flag of the United Irishmen.
green: banner of the rebel group, its predominate color

Verse 5 Death to the enemies and traitors! They come, they come. Viewing the myriad of French who come to liberate us.

Verse 6 The uprising fails, yet freedom's desire lives in the next generation.
bitter was their fate/better was their faith

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Casey, John Keegan (1867). A wreath of shamrocks:: ballads, songs, and legends. Dublin: Robert S. M'Gee, 35 Lower Sackville Street (next the General Post Office). pp. 31–33. 
  2. ^ Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "Rising of the Moon, The". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Zimmermann, Georges Denis (1967). Songs of Irish rebellion: political street ballads and rebel songs, 1780–1900. Hatboro, Pa.: Folklore Associates. p. 260. 
  4. ^ O'Conor, Manus (1901). Irish come-all-ye's: a repository of ancient Irish songs and ballads—comprising patriotic, descriptive, historical and humorous gems, characteristic of the Irish race. New York: L. Lipkind. p. 111. 
  5. ^ Galvin, Patrick (1955). Irish songs of resistance. New York City: Folklore Press. p. 35. 
  6. ^ Zimmermann (1967), pp. 259–260
  7. ^ Silber, Irwin; Silber, Fred (1973). Folksinger's wordbook. New York, NY: Oak Publications. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-8256-0140-8. 
  8. ^ Sparling, Henry Halliday (1888). Irish minstrelsy: being a selection of Irish songs, lyrics, and ballads. London: W. Scott. pp. 21–22. 
  9. ^ Kenedy, Patrick John (1898). The universal Irish song book: a complete collection of the songs and ballads of Ireland. New York: P.J. Kenedy. p. 134. 
  10. ^ "2806 b.10(189)". Bodleian Library Catalogue of Ballads. University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "2806 b.10(205)". Bodleian Library Catalogue of Ballads. University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  12. ^ "Bobby Sands' Diary". Irish Hunger Strike 1981. Irishhungerstrike.com. Retrieved 29 Oct 2010.