The Rising of the Moon
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 ballad takes the tune of another Irish ballad, "The Wearing of the Green" and was first published in Casey's 1866 collection of poems and songs A Wreath of Shamrocks. The lyrics were written by John Keegan Casey (1846–70), the "Fenian Poet," who based the poem on the failed 1798 uprising in Granard, Co Longford.
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.
The song remains popular and the tune is 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, including The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Peter, Paul and Mary.
Overview, terms, and variants
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
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
- 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.
- Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "Rising of the Moon, The". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
- Zimmermann, Georges Denis (1967). Songs of Irish rebellion: political street ballads and rebel songs, 1780–1900. Hatboro, Pa.: Folklore Associates. p. 260.
- 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.
- Galvin, Patrick (1955). Irish songs of resistance. New York City: Folklore Press. p. 35.
- Zimmermann (1967), pp. 259–260
- Silber, Irwin; Silber, Fred (1973). Folksinger's wordbook. New York, NY: Oak Publications. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-8256-0140-8.
- Sparling, Henry Halliday (1888). Irish minstrelsy: being a selection of Irish songs, lyrics, and ballads. London: W. Scott. pp. 21–22.
- 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.
- "2806 b.10(189)". Bodleian Library Catalogue of Ballads. University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
- "2806 b.10(205)". Bodleian Library Catalogue of Ballads. University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
- "Bobby Sands' Diary". Irish Hunger Strike 1981. Irishhungerstrike.com. Retrieved 29 Oct 2010.