The Rising of the Moon is a world famous Irish rebel song. It honours the Fenian Movement in Ireland and was written by a leading member, John Keegan Casey, when he was only fifteen years-of-age.

A Pikeman

In it, Casey tries to capture the spirit of the 1798 Rebellion rather than focus on the details of any one battle. In as much as it is about any specific event at all, it refers to the battle that took place in County Longford near the small town of Granard.  A group of rebels armed only with pikes came up against highly trained soldiers armed with muskets and artillery.

casey 5

The rebels didn’t stand a chance and were quickly routed. More than 400 were killed. There were numerous battles in 1798 but the young poet probably chose Granard because it was close to his home town of Mullingar.

The song describes the preparations for battle but it doesn’t focus on the actual fighting or give any further details. Instead the final verse ends by asserting that although they were defeated, the rebels retained their pride and sense of glory.

A Pikemen 2

Casey wrote the song with two ideas in mind. He wanted to celebrate the efforts of Irish nationalists of the past and also to inspire the same kind of nationalist passion in his own generation of the 1860s. The Fenians were gaining momentum in Ireland at that time in their quest for Irish freedom and would soon be staging a rebellion of their own.

John Keegan Casey, in ‘The Rising of the Moon’ brought ferment to that nationalist feeling. His words was affirming that the spirit of the 1798 rebels was still alive because Ireland still had brave men who would follow in their footsteps at ‘The Rising of the Moon.


New Book by Paddy Cummins


Casey Cover 4