The Rising of the Moon

The Dubliners
At the 25th Year celebration of The Dubliners on The Late Late Show, Ronnie Drew, Barney McKenna, John Sheahan, Sean Cannon and Eamonn Campbell, Dublin, 06/03/1987. Independent News and Media / Getty Images

History and Background

"The Rising of the Moon" is a traditional Irish folk song that was written in the mid-1860s and tells a story about the 1798 Rebellion. The words were penned by John Keegan Casey, a poet who was an activist with the Fenian movement, which sought to liberate Ireland in a failed uprising in March of 1867. It's believed that he wrote the lyrics to help inspire fervor in the 1867 uprising, similar to that of the 1798 Rebellion, but indeed, the latter was squashed as well.​

"The Rising of the Moon" is sung to the tune of "The Wearing of the Green". A translation point: "mo bhuachaill," heard in the first verse, means "my boy" in the Irish language.

Lyrics

"Oh then, tell me Sean O'Farrell, tell me why you hurry so?"
"Hush, mo bhuachaill, hush and listen," and his cheeks were all aglow
"I bear orders from the captain, get you ready quick and soon
For the pikes must be together at the rising of the moon.
"I bear orders from the captain, get you ready quick and soon
For the pikes must be together at the rising of the moon.

"O then, tell me Sean O'Farrell, where the gath'ring is to be?"
"In the old spot by the river, 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 rising of the moon."
One word more for signal token, whistle up the marchin' tune
With your pike upon your shoulder, by the rising of the moon."

Out from many a mud wall cabin eyes were watching through that night
Many a manly heart 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 rising of the moon.
Murmurs passed along the valleys like the Banshee's lonely croon
And a thousand blades were flashing at the rising of the moon.

There beside the singing river, that dark mass of men were seen
Far above the shining weapons hung their own beloved green
"Death to every foe and traitor! Forward! Strike the marching tune!
And Hurrah, my boys, for Freedom! 'Tis the rising of the moon.
"Death to every foe and traitor! Forward! Strike the marching tune!
And Hurrah, my boys, for Freedom! 'Tis the rising of the moon.

Well, they fought for poor old Ireland, and full bitter was their fate
Oh, what glorious pride and sorrow fills the name of Ninety-Eight!
Yet, thank God, even still are beating hearts in manhood's burning noon
Who would follow in their footsteps at the rising of the moon.
Yet, thank God, even still are beating hearts in manhood's burning noon
Who would follow in their footsteps at the rising of the moon.

Recommended Recorded Versions:

(Click the song title to sample via Amazon.com)

  • The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - "The Rising of the Moon" (A fairly traditional Irish sing-along version of the ballad, and probably the best-known recorded version.)
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary - The Rising of the Moon" (Classic Peter, Paul, and Mary -- a bit squarer than an Irish version, but clean and lovely in and of itself.)
  • The Dubliners - "The Rising of the Moon" (Another traditional Irish version, with the Dubliners' signature rough-and-ready approach.)
    Format
    mla apa chicago
    Your Citation
    Romer, Megan. "The Rising of the Moon." ThoughtCo, Jun. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-rising-of-the-moon-3552946. Romer, Megan. (2017, June 2). The Rising of the Moon. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-rising-of-the-moon-3552946 Romer, Megan. "The Rising of the Moon." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-rising-of-the-moon-3552946 (accessed October 23, 2017).