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The Rising of the Moon

Martin, William

New York: Crown Publishers


The Rising of the Moon

Plot Summary

The story begins in Boston in 1916, where Padraic Starr has travelled on behalf of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. A Rising is set to take place in Dublin, and Starr is sent overseas to collect American support, money and arms in preparation. While in Boston he is also determined to recruit his cousin, politician Tom Tracy, to join in the fighting; when the two boys were children, Tracy’s father was murdered by the same authorities against whom Starr and his friends are fighting, and Starr is convinced that Tracy will want revenge.

Having gathered arms and money through various nefarious means, Starr and Tracy hire a local captain to transport their cargo to Dunslea. On the journey across the Atlantic, they are joined by Tracy’s girlfriend Rachel Levka who, because she is a young Jewish woman and has thus suffered her own injustices at the hands of the powerful, can relate to the Irish situation and desires to join in the fight against the British. In the waters around Ireland, however, the ship comes in contact with a German submarine, which launches a torpedo because it thinks the American vessel is actually a British Q-ship. The torpedo tears a gigantic hole in the American ship’s hull; it sinks and the arms it is carrying are lost to the ocean’s depths.

Several of the ship’s crew members and some of Starr’s friends are lost, but Starr, Tracy, Rachel and some others make it to the Dunslea shore in one of the ship’s lifeboats. Once there, they hide out and, despite their shortage of arms, subsequently attempt to play a role in the Rising that has been scheduled to take place all over Ireland on Easter Sunday. Little do they realize, though, that Eoin MacNeill has called off the Volunteer movements for that day; after the group attacks a local bridge used by the military, they receive no reinforcements and are bombarded by police officers. Tracy kills the magistrate who ordered the death of his father so many years ago. Both Starr and Rachel are killed, but Tracy and his younger brother manage to make it back to the lifeboat. Once on the water, they are picked up by a British trawler and brought to Galway, where they buy passage back to America on a shipping schooner. Back in Boston, Tracy returns to his post as a politician and does not return to Ireland until he is an old man.

Main Characters

  • Tom Tracy

  • Padraic Starr

Significant Minor Characters

  • Father Sean O’Fearna

  • Rachel Levka

  • Ian Lambert-Jones

  • James Curley

  • Seamus Kiliernan

  • Deirdre Hamilton

  • Donal O’Leary

  • Jason Pratt

  • Jimmy the Butcher

  • Jenny Molloy

  • William Clarke

  • Danny Tracy

  • Eoin MacNeill

Publication History

The novel was first published in hardcover in January 1987 by Crown Publishers (New York). That same year, it was also published in hardcover by MacDonald & Co. (London and Sydney) and in paperback by Ballantine Books (New York) and Ivy Books (Westminster, Maryland). In January 1989, Random House Value Publishing (New York) published the book in hardcover; Little, Brown UK Paperbacks reprinted it in London that March. It was also published in paperback by Futura Publications (London) in 1989. In 1995, Mysterious Press (New York) published it in paperback. That March, it was also published in paperback by Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) in New York. The novel is currently out of print.

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