By Mattie Lennon
Recently while listening to Peggy Sweeney singing “Oh The Pale Moon was ris….”
If I were the moon I’d feel a bit peeved. OK, the rising of the moon is well documented. Poets revere it, artists immortalize it and it even seems to have played a significant role in Ireland’s fight for freedom. What with shining on dying rebels and casting it’s beams over shining pikes. And didn’t Lady Gregory have plans to ;”…..all change places at the rising of the moon”? Once it rises majestically into the night sky we have numerous requests for it; “guide the traveler his way”. “…..shine on the one I love” and many more.
But when did you last hear a romantic ballad about “The Setting of the Moon”?
I’m after scanning a list of jigs, reels and hornpipes and I couldn’t find one tune named after the aforementioned phenomena. You can go through every housing estate in Ireland and you won’t find a setting moon depicted in a wrought-iron gate. It is inspiring when “rising over Claddagh”, Dancing on Monan’s rill” or even hiding: “behind the hill”. (Although the latter position can draw some criticism. (An old friend of mine………was walking in Ballinastockan one dark night when he, involuntary, left the road and dropped a few feet into an unfenced field. On extricating himself from the briars, the, more printable extract of his comment was: “………you’d be shinin’ of a bright night”.)
Why is there not one word of praise for the moon going down? Surely there is some form of moon-loving flora, which “turns to her God when she sets”. Well if there is Thomas Moore mustn’t have known about it. Coleridge was there as ; “The moving moon went up the sky”, but he must have retired before it.
Why don’t we see a beautiful Colleen with an Irish Wolfhound, at a round Tower backed by a beautiful moonset?
Have you ever felt compelled to write about the setting moon? I must say I haven’t, because in all fairness I have to say I haven’t ever seen a moon set. And come to think of it even my philosophical friend in West Wicklow, who was somewhat of a nocturnal rambler, didn’t say he had ever witnessed the lunar setting. ( He did once claim that America was farther away than the moon; on the grounds that you can see the moon……)
So maybe the oppressor got the celestial bodies mixed up. Perhaps it was the MOON that didn’t set on the Empire!