Theresa O’Connor

The Foggy Dew — Irish History in Song

This is one of the most well-known songs about the Easter Rising.

As down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair1 rode I
There armed lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by
No pipes did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its dread tattoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey's swell
Rang out in the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Dublin town
They flug out the flag of war
Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sedd el Bahr
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
But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
Or the fringe of the great North Sea
Oh had they died by Pearse's side
Or fought with Cathal Brugha
Their names we'd keep where the Fenians sleep
'Neath the shroud of the foggy dew

Well the bravest fell and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide
In the springing of the year
While the world did gaze with deep amaze
At those fearless men but few
Who bore the fight that the freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew

Back through the glen I rode again
My heart with grief was sore
For I parted with those valiant men
Whom I'll never see no more
And to and fro in my dreams I go
And I kneel and pray for you
For slavery fled, oh glorious dead
When you fell in the foggy dew

Like the Wild Geese of old, the Irishmen who fought for Britain during World War I (referenced in the second and third verses) were sent to the continent to fight and die in a foreign war. The irony, touched on in the third verse, is that while those Irish soldiers fought for the self-determination of Belgium and other small European nations, other Irishmen fought for the self-determination of Ireland in the rising.


  1. Dublin’s known as the “fair city,” due to the street ballad “Molly Malone:”

    In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
    I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…

    There’s even a soap opera on Irish TV called “Fair City.”