In the Memoirs of Captain Rock, the poet Thomas Moore adopts the persona of an ancient Irish chieftain to justify the campaign of violent resistance then being carried out by agrarian rebels against the Anglo-Irish Protestant establishment.
The book can be divided up into two parts. The first provides the reader with a detailed history of the Rock family. More than that, it gives us a litany of woes arising from the atrocities inflicted by the English in Ireland. The reader is left in no doubt that the Rocks are a fairly typical Irish rural family in the appalling suffering they've had to endure at the hands of the English.
In the second part of the book, Moore, still retaining the guise of Captain Rock, attempts to justify the campaign of murder and violent resistance then being carried out by agrarian radicals against the authorities.
Life in the Irish countryside was notoriously harsh in the early nineteenth century and would be for many years to come. Hunger, absentee landlordism, and the suppression of the majority Catholic religion were just some of the impositions that rural folk had to endure.
Irish peasants often responded to these depredations by violence, and it is just such violence that Captain Rock seeks to justify. He regards the actions of agrarian rebels as entirely justified, an appropriate response to the brutal, unjust policies carried out by the Anglo-Irish Protestant elite.
Here as elsewhere in the Memoirs, Moore puts forward an essentially negative concept of Irish national identity, one that is defined in opposition to the English oppressor and the Anglo-Irish gentry who support them. In particular, the vision of Irishness put forward by Moore is one that is forged in the heat of conflict with the oppressor rather than something that can be defined positively in its own right.