“As back through the glen I rode again
And my heart with me fell 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 a glorious dead
When you fell in the foggy dew”
This is the final verse of one of the best known of all Irish rebel ballads. The Foggy Dew was first noted in music books from the 1800s but the lyrics were adapted over the years. The most iconic version was that presented by the Catholic priest, Charles O’Neill, which was written in the wake of the Easter Rising of 1916 when Irish men and women rose up to fight the might of the British Empire. Although the Rising failed in a military sense, it was victorious in that it lit the fuse for a generation who fought and won a measure of freedom for 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland.
The song laments the ridiculous situation at that time whereby approximately 206,000 Irishmen fought for the British Empire during ‘The Great War’. Of that number, 26,000 were committed Unionists from the north. The rest, however, would see themselves as non-British yet fought, and in too many cases died, for the very state that was occupying and oppressing Ireland. Redmond, an Irish Nationalist leader, who in large part encouraged this pantomime, was an imbecile. Today in Ireland, attempts are being made by Anglophiles to rewrite the historical narrative surrounding the debacle that was the Irish participation in war on behalf of the English Establishment.
“Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud El Bar”
Many artists have performed their own versions of this wonderful song. Some, such as Sínéad Ó Connor, Hamish Imlach, Pete Seeger and The Chieftains are well-known. Others are not. The following performance of this ballad is one of the best you will ever hear. Daoirí Farrell is a former electrician from Dublin who was inspired to become a musical performer after seeing Christy Moore. It well that he did for his voice has a haunting quality that speaks of the best of Irish folk music. Rebel Voice humbly hopes that you enjoy this top-notch version of a top-notch song. It’s enough to make you want to run out and attack a barracks.
Tiocfaidh ár lá.