Unity among the Irish People in The Rising of the Moon

Lady Gregory's The Rising of the Moon (1907) openly deals with the political theme in terms of the relationship between England and Ireland. Ireland is trying to fight for freedom from English rule which she has been suffering through since ages. The English domination of Ireland has a very long history.

Lady Gregory (1852-1932)

Lady Gregory in her play The Rising of the Moon portrays characters who are torn between the sense of duty and strong feeling of patriotism. It is shown that eventually these two people having different interest united together as Irishmen through the folklore, myths and rebel songs which they share as a nation. The thought of being the citizen of a country takes precedence over one’s feelings of duty towards a foreign nation. Patriotism is the unifying force among the people.

The Ballad Singer or the Ragged Man (Rebel) and the Sergeant are the major characters through whom the issue of unity among Irish people is explored. The sergeant is on the lookout for the wanted Irish rebel, however, he doesn’t forget that he himself is an Irish citizen. At the beginning of the play, he is prepared to track down the rebel because he is a sergeant and his duty to England demands that he should be loyal. Since he is also a main source of income of the family the reward of $100 will be a great help for him. Conversely, as the play progresses, his sympathy towards the rebel increases and he then allows the rebels to escape. When the ballad singer misses certain words and phrases of old Irish rebel songs, the sergeant fills in the gaps. They both sing the songs in high spirit. The Ragged Man convinces the Sergeant that though he is an English civil servant, he is at first the Irish citizen who has the prime responsibility of fighting or supporting the noble cause of national independence. They even share the same pipe which symbolically stands for the unity among these two people. The sergeant now feels more as an Irishman than as the duty officer. His sense of duty towards England gets slackened and the feeling of nationality is so overwhelming. He is reminded of the days when he was like the rebel. The Sergeant at last let the Ragged Man go and hides his wig and hat from his juniors.

Thus, by bringing together an Irish rebel and an Irish police officer serving the English government, Gregory is emphasizing the unity of Irish people. No matter what they do and whom they work for, they are first and foremost the people of Ireland. The people put their nationality above everything else. The songs and ballads which form a part of Irish cultural heritage are used as a power source for bringing about unity among the Irish people.