Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:
Rising of the Moon, TheDESCRIPTION: "Oh! Then tell me, Sean O'Farrell, Tell me why you hurry so...." The singer is told that the "pikes must be together at the rising of the moon." The pikes gather, but are spotted and defeated. The listeners are told, "we will follow in their footsteps."
AUTHOR: Words: John Keegan Casey (1846-1870)
EARLIEST DATE: 1867 (reference in _The Nation_, Feb 23, 1867, according to Zimmermann); c.1865 (Zimmermann)
KEYWORDS: rebellion Ireland
1798 - Irish Rebellion
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (10 citations):
O'Conor, p. 111, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text)
PGalvin, p. 35, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text)
OLochlainn-More 67, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zimmermann 69, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moylan 117, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 322, "The Rising Of The Moon" (1 text)
Healy-OISBv2, pp. 120-121, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text, tune on p. 22)
ADDITIONAL: H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 21-22, 497, "The Rising of the Moon"
Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 550-551, "The Rising of the Moon" (1 text)
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "The Rising of the Moon" (on IRClancyMakem03)
Bodleian, 2806 b.10(189), "The Rising of the Moon," unknown, n.d.; also 2806 b.10(205), "The Rising of the Moon"
cf. "The Wearing of the Green (I)" (tune) and references there
cf. "Bannow's Bright Blue Bay" (tune)
NOTES: John Keegan Casey was a nineteenth century Irish patriot. He wrote this song in prison, where he died at the age of twenty-three. He was regarded as being very promising, but of course died very young; this is the only piece of his to have any wide circulation.
The reference to "pikes" accurately shows one of the problems of the 1798 rising. The rebels in Wicklow, for instance, had over ten thousand men enlisted to their cause -- and guns for only a thousand of them, and too little powder even for that thousand weapons.
Their alternative was the pike. These they had in sufficiency, since local blacksmiths could and did make them. And they also had the advantage of being easy to use: An illiterate farmer boys wouldn't know how to use a musket, but (in theory) anyone could figure out how to stick an enemy with a pike.
Of course, against real soldiers armed with firearms, they would have been quite useless. Pikes had been a genuine military weapon at the time of the last great battles in Ireland, the Boyne and Aughrim (see G.A. Hayes-McCoy, Irish Battles: A Military History of Ireland, pp. 219-220), but the ratio of musketeers to pikemen had been steadily rising; even at the Boyne, there were some regiments on the Williamite side with no pikes at all. And, by 1798, the bayonet had replaced the pike in all modern armies.
Still, the British were doing what they could to stop even pike production; Viceroy Camden was concerned about the way blacksmiths were turning them out (see Robert Kee, The Most Distressful Country, Volume 1 of The Green Flag, p. 68).
To add to the problems, the leadership of the United Irishmen were almost all in British custody by the time the of the 1798 uprising. The uprising was almost forced; the British were determined to root out all hints of rebellion; rather than be rounded up, the local cells went into revolt. But they no longer had leaders to coordinate their activities.
Robert Gogan, 130 Great Irish Ballads (third edition, Music Ireland, 2004), p. 34, says that in Casey's original, the rebels met by the Inny River, but he feared that this would bring extra British attention, so he changed it to the "shining river." - RBW
OLochlainn-More, pp. viii-ix: "John Keegan Casey's 'Rising of the Moon' had to be included for the spendid air my grandfather John Carr of Limerick had to it. (I hate to hear it sung to 'The Wearing of the Green' -- a tune which does not suit at all)." The OLochlainn-More tune is very much the tune as I remember Richard Dyer-Bennet singing it in the early 1950's (probably the one available on the 1957 LP Dyer-Bennet 4000). - BS
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.
And the Digital Tradition lyrics:
RISING OF THE MOON
"Tell me, tell me, Sean O'Farrell, tell me why you hurry so?"
"Hush me bhuachail, hush and listen," and his face was all aglow
"I bear orders from the captain, get you ready quick and soon
With your pike upon your shoulder for the rising of the moon"
"Tell me, tell me, Sean O'Farrell, where the gatherin' is to be?"
"Near the old spot by the river, right well known to you and me"
"One more thing, the signal token?" "Whistle up the marching tune
For our pikes must be together by the rising of the moon"
Out from many a mud-walled cabin, eyes were lookin' through the
Many a manly heart was throbin' for the blessed morning light
A cry arose along the river, like some banshee's mournful croon
And a thousand pikes were flashing by the rising of the moon
All along the shining river one black mass of men was seen
And above them in the night wind floated our immortal green
Death to every foe and traitor. Onward, strike the marching tune
And hurrah me boys for freedom, it's the rising of the moon
Well they fought for dear old Ireland, and full bitter was their fate,
Oh what glorious pride and sorrow fills the name of ninety-eight.
But thank God e'en now are beating hearts in mankind's burning noon,
Who will follow in their footsteps, at the rising of the moon.
recorded by Clancy Brothers and by Dyer-Bennet
TUNE FILE: RISEMOON
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TUNE FILE: WEARGREN
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