The Foggy Dew

I heard it often as a boy… either the tune whistled merrily by my great-grandfather, as his sky-blue eyes focused upon the distant horizon; or the lyrics belted out, with chest-thumping ferocity, by my uncles (after a dozen or so too many pints). `Tis the rousing Irish anthem: The Foggy Dew.

As down the glen one Easter morn, to the city fair rode I;

there armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by.

No pipe did hum, nor battle drum, did sound its dread tat-too;

but the Angelus Bell, o`er the Liffey`s swell, rang out through the foggy dew.

Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war.

`Twas better to die `neath an Irish sky, than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar;

and from the plains of Royal Meath, strong men came hurrying through.

While Britannia`s Huns, with their long range guns, sailed in through the foggy dew.

`Twas England bade our wild geese go, that “small nations might be free”

their lonely graves are by Suvla`s waves or the fringe of the great North Sea.

O, had they died by Pearse`s side or fought with Cathal Brugha!

Their graves we`d keep, where the Fenians sleep, `neath the shroud of the foggy dew.

O the night fell black, and the rifles` crack made perfidious Albion reel;

in the leaden rain, seven tongues of flame did shine o`er the lines of steel.

By each shining blade, a prayer was said, that to Ireland her sons be true;

but when morning broke, still the war flag shook out its folds the foggy dew.

O the bravest fell, and the Requiem bell rang mournfully and clear;

for those who died that Eastertide in the Spring time of the year;

and the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few;

who bore the fight, that freedom`s light might shine through the foggy dew.

As back through the glen I rode again, and my heart with grief was sore;

for I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more.

But to and fro in my dreams I go, and I kneel and pray for you;

for slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew!

Having solidified its legendary status over the years with its amalgamation into the Irish national consciousness, it has proved to be an essential part of the Celtic (and Folk) musical repertoire.

As far as I know, it has been performed by such luminaries as Alan Stivell, Ashley MacIsaac, Bob Dylan, the Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners, Loreena McKennitt, Sinad O`Connor and numerous others… it is also the standard opening song of the infamous Dropkick Murphys.

In the ancient tradition of the Celtic bards, minstrels, and warrior-poets – this song both eulogizes and mythologizes the struggle for Irish independence from English oppression, specifically the seminal event for the now independent Republic of Ireland: the Easter Uprising of 1916.

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