Places: The Rising of the Moon

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1905

First produced: 1907

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Protest

Time of work: Early twentieth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Ireland

*Ireland. Rising of the Moon, TheIsland nation west of Great Britain that is under unwelcome British rule at the time this play is set. The play’s backdrop is the Ireland of rebel Republican organizations that sought the end of British rule. Violent resistance was uncommon in the first decade of the twentieth century, but Irish nationalism was active and assumed many other forms. Lady Gregory’s characters assume that great popular sentiment supported the cause, even to sympathy with actions deemed illegal by the British regime. This attitude likely sets the scene in the south or southwest regions of the island, rather than in the Protestant-and Loyalist-dominated north and east regions. The police are native Irish, though hired to protect British interests and capture leaders of the cause, such as the unnamed felon. Ultimately the fugitive uses this commonality of Irish identity to dissuade the sergeant from arresting him.


Quay (kee). Wharf where ships are loaded and unloaded in an unnamed Irish port; the play’s stage directions merely indicate “a seaport town.” Such places were indeed doorways through which wanted men escaped authorities and aid to the rebels of several generations was provided. The quay on which the action takes place is situated between the nearby town and its jail (gaol), and the freedom of the open water below. It, too, serves specifically as a doorway that the sergeant initially guards and blocks, and that, in the end, he opens by sending off the other Irish policemen. In addition, it is the setting for his own self-realization, prompted by the “ragged man,” that he, as an Irishman, might easily have been in the unseen boat on the sea of freedom and resistance to authority. However, he is attached to the police corps, jail, and British authority, located symbolically in the opposite direction.

BibliographyAdams, Hazard. Lady Gregory. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1973. A brief, insightful guide to Lady Gregory’s various writings. Contains a biographical sketch and a chapter on each of the main areas of her works, including her plays. A chronology and a brief bibliography are included.Coxhead, Elizabeth. Lady Gregory: A Literary Portrait. London: Secker and Warburg, 1966. A revised and enlarged edition of a 1962 work which uses a biographical approach to concentrate on Lady Gregory’s writings, a checklist of which is included. Her literary and cultural relations with other leading figures in the Irish literary revival provide a focus for the author’s approach.Gregory, Lady Augusta. Lady Gregory: Interviews and Recollections. Edited by E. H. Mikhail. London: Macmillan, 1977. A selection of excerpts from memoirs, newspapers, and other contemporary sources that provide a composite portrait of Lady Gregory’s public life. Her celebrated home at Coole Part enters the picture, and some of her remarks in passing about the early, controversial history of the Abbey Theatre are included.Kohfeldt, Mary Lou. Lady Gregory: The Woman Behind the Irish Renaissance. New York: Athenaeum, 1985. The fullest account available of Lady Gregory’s life and times. Use is made of archival material to broaden the picture of Lady Gregory’s youth, though the main emphasis remains on her public work on behalf of the arts in Ireland.Kopper, E. A., Jr. “Lady Gregory’s The Rising of the Moon.” The Explicator 47, no. 3 (Spring, 1989): 29-31. A brief account of the play’s origins and place in the Abbey Theatre repertory. Particular emphasis is placed on the work’s debt to actual events of the day.Saddlemyer, Ann, and Colin Smythe, eds. Lady Gregory: Fifty Years After. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987. A substantial collection of essays that provide a comprehensive scholarly treatment of Lady Gregory’s life and times. Several essays are devoted to her plays, and this volume also includes considerable material pertinent to an evaluation of the overall cultural significance of Lady Gregory’s contribution to Irish literature.
Categories: Places