"The Foggy Dew" as written by and Traditional....
As down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I
There armed lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by
No fife did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its dred tattoo
But the Angelus bells 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 Brittania's huns with theirlong-range guns
Sailed in through the foggy dew

'Twas Brittania bade our wild geese go
That small nations might be free
But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
On the shore of the gray North Sea
But had they died by Pearse's side
Or fought with Cathal Brugha
Their names we would keep where the Fenians sleep
'Neath the shroud of the foggy dew

But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide
In the springing 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


Lyrics submitted by Sinroth, edited by supersimon

"The Foggy Dew" as written by

Lyrics © Public Domain

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Foggy Dew song meanings
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  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionLyrics corrected for The Dubliners version.
    Lyrics were NOT by James McNally, but Charles O’Neill.

    As down the glen one Easter morn
    To a city fair rode I
    There Armed lines of marching men
    In squadrons passed me by
    No fife did hum nor battle drum
    Did sound it's dread tattoo
    But the Angelus bells o'er the Liffey 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 Britannia bade our Wild Geese go
    That small nations might be free
    But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves Or the shore of the Great North Sea
    Oh had they died by Pearse's side
    Or fought with Cathal Brugha
    Their names we will keep where the Fenians sleep
    'Neath the shroud of the foggy dew

    But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell
    Rang mournfully and clear
    For those who died that Easter tide
    In the springing 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

    It's about the Easter Uprising of 1916. As a bit of background, the British had promised the Irish independence of a sort in the Government of Ireland (Home Rule) Act of 1914. The Irish were quite happy about this, and enlisted in the ranks of the British army in great numbers to "defend the rights of small countries" (like Belgium).

    After WWI broke out, Britain suspended the Act, and the Irish saw it as a bait-and-switch tactic (it had happened before several times, as did similar things in India), so they called a rebellion, which was initially successful at defending several chokepoints, but was eventually defeated by the British simply sitting back and shelling the strongpoints. (The "long range guns" mentioned in the lyrics.)

    The song is a melancholy look at the men marching to their death, but stating it was better to die on Ireland's soul than in actions in Gallapoli (Suvla Bay) or "on the shores of the Great North Sea". If only they'd died like the Fenians (Irish Republican Revolutionaries), we'd honor their names, the song says.

    It's full of bitter irony toward Britain, especially noting that it was Britain that "bade our wild geese called that small nations might be free" (the 'wild geese' are Irish troops serving in the British Army), contrasting the irony of Irish troops fighting for other small countries' freedom while Britain was smashing the freedom of another small nation next door. It also calls the British "Huns" for their barbaric behavior during and after the Uprising (massacres of civilians and executions of the leaders), using Britain's own propaganda term for Germany against itself.

    It's obviously a biased song - from Britain's perspective, the Irish were in the moral wrong for siding with Germany, effectively, with the uprising (their guns were smuggled in from spare arms the Kaiser had stolen from the Tzar), but there's no doubt it is a very poignant and powerful song.

    Well worth a discussion over the rights and wrongs of the whole thing.
    ShakaUVMon November 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about a failed Irish revolution in 1916. The Revolution was put down after one week of fighting and the leaders of the revolution where executed. kinda a sad song when you think bout it
    Inquisitoron January 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Song is about the 1916 revolution in Ireland...but the song is about more than that.

    The song speaks to Irish citizens who were leaving Ireland to go off to fight for Britain in World War 1. The Irish republicans urged citizens to stay at home and fight for the cause of Ireland, rather than give their lives for England. This culminated in the rebellion that was eventually squashed after a week or so...but not before the world took notice.
    manicmarkuson January 18, 2011   Link

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