Listen to The Foggy Dew, especially performed for Ireland's Favourite Folk Song by Daoirí Farrell, above, and read all about the song below...
The Foggy Dew is a rousing ballad written in praise of those Irishmen who decided that it was ‘better to die ‘neath an Irish sky’ fighting for Ireland’s freedom rather than sacrificing their lives fighting for the British Empire in the Great War. The soldiers who died in far-away places such as Suvla or Sud-El-Bar (Sedd el Bahr) in Gallipoli were no less heroic but the lyricist believed that they would not be remembered or held in the same reverence as those who ‘died by Pearse’s side’ during the 1916 Easter Rising.
The song’s lyrics are attributed to Fr. (later Cannon) Charles O’Neill who was a curate at the time in Belfast. He attended the first sitting of Dáil Éireann in 1919 and was moved by the experience to write his patriotic ballad soon after. The music pre-existed. It shares the same melody with older songs such as The Moorlough Shore. It would appear that Fr. O’Neill based his composition on John McCormack’s earlier love song also called The Foggy Dew which McCormack recorded in 1913. The melody is exactly the same and the opening lines are similar –‘As down the hill I went one morn a lovely maid I spied...’.
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