Rising of the Moon (The)

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X:1 T:Rising of the Moon, The L:1/8 S:O’Neill N:A major-key variant of O'Lochlainn's tune. M:C K:D D3 E F2 G2|A2 d2 c A3|F3 A G2 E2|D2 D2 [E4C4]| D3 E F2 G2|A2 d2 c A3|F3 A G2 E2|E2 D2 D4|| A2 B2 c2 d2|e2 d2 c A3|F3 G A2 B2|c2 d2 A4| A2 B2 c2 d2|e2 d2 c A3|F3 A G2 E2|E2 D2 D4||

RISING OF THE MOON, THE (Eirge na re). Irish, Air (4/4 time, "with animation"). A Major (sometimes A Dorian). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The song, with words by Fenian writer John Keegan Casey (1846-1870), was set to the air of “The Wearing of the Green” some sixty years after the Irish rebellion of 1798. Casey was in prison at the time for the crime of being a Fenian, and died in prison at the tender age of twenty-three as a result of his sufferings. According to a review of "A Wreath of Shamrocks" which appeared in The Nation in February, 1867, the “Rising of the Moon” was said to have been written for circulation on ballad sheets around fairs and Markets. Redfern Mason wrote in his Song Lore of Ireland (1910):

There is, in true national poetry an accent of sincerity which goes straight to the heart and cannot be imitated...nowhere does it ring with a more pathetic thrill than in "Wearing of the Green". The writer was a lad when he first heard it sung in Boucicault's Arrah na Pogue (1865)...Because it was sung in Boucicault's drama, many people have imagined that the clever playwright wrote it. But nobody can claim its authorship. It is an inspired street ballad, born of the sorrow and bitterness of the people.

In Ireland the song “Rising of the Moon” is always sung to the tune of “Wearing of the Green.” Many Americans recognize the song in the version popularized by the folk group Peter Paul and Mary in the late 1960’s, who sung it to a different air in a minor key. Terry Moylan tracks the origin of this air to an article called “Four County Clare Tunes” by Edith Wheeler, contributed in 1905 to volume 3 of the Journal of Irish Folk Song Society. All four tunes were collected by herself, including a version of "The Foggy Dew" and "The Rising of the Moon,” to which she appended a note that the tunes had little in common with the usual tunes to which the songs were sung. Colm O Lochlainn preferred the JIFSS tune for the song (and also said his grandfather had sung the song to her air) and published it with the words to “The Rising of the Moon” in his book More Irish Street Ballads (1965). It was his opinion that “The Wearing of the Green” tune was a clumsy match for the words. The O’ Lochlainn book was very influential during the folk song revival of the mid-20th century, and Moylan feels confident this was the source used by Peter, Paul and Mary. Francis O'Neill printed a major-key variant of the O Lochlainn tune.

There have been still more melodic vehicles for the song. Scottish guitarist Tony Cuffe (1954-2001) wrote a melody for it in the 1970’s.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Michael O'Brien [O'Neill].

Printed sources : - O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 158, p. 28.

Recorded sources: -

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