Fresh off the international success of “The Colleen Bawn,” Boucicault hoped to repeat its success with a new Irish drama, premiering in his native city of Dublin on 7 November 1864. Set during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, “Arrah-na-Pogue” (‘Arrah of the Kiss’) proved to be a smash hit, and played to packed houses throughout its run.
“Arrah-na-Pogue” soon moved to London in March 1865, where it continued to enjoy tremendous success, even inspiring some critics to predict a longer run than the record-smashing “The Colleen Bawn.” The play opened in New York in July 1865, although Boucicault remained in London, likely due to the effects of the Civil War. Regardless, “Arrah-na-Pogue” proved a success in America, and remained a staple of Boucicault’s stage repertoire, enjoying numerous revivals through to the late 1880s.
Perhaps the most enduring aspect of “Arrah-na-Pogue” has been Boucicault’s reworking of the old Irish street ballad “The Wearing of the Green,” which features prominently in the play. While the song’s anti-British sentiment played well in the Dublin theatres in 1864, and even became an anthem of sorts for the Fenian movement, it was less celebrated in England, and was banned from British theatres after the Fenian bombings in 1867. To this day, it is Boucicault’s version that you will hear sung, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.
The play script digitized here features minimal prompts in Boucicault’s hand, although a second prompt book in USF Special Collections shows Boucicault’s corrections the lyrics to “The Wearing of the Green,” and, as there are only two stanzas, may represent his attempts to sanitize the song for British audiences.
Arrah-na-pogue, or, the Wicklow Wedding
A promptbook for Arrah-na-Pough, or, the Wicklow Wedding, an Irish Drama in three acts.
Wearing of the Green : sung in Arrah na pogue
Dion Boucicault and S. Behrens
Song; for voice, piano and guitar.
Arrah-na-pogue (Arrah-of-the-kiss), or, the Wicklow Wedding
Dion Boucicault and Henry Llewellyn Williams