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Foggy Dew – a reflection on the Easter Rising 1916

The Foggy Dew is one of the most remarkable songs to have emerged out of the Easter Rising staged by Irish nationalists in 1916.

Irish feelings about the Easter Rising
Foggy Dew Videos
Lyrics and Chords

It was written by Canon Charles O’Neill who was a parish priest at Kilcoo in County the north of Ireland.

The melody is based on an old traditional Irish song called the Banks of Moorlough Shore.

Putting the song in its historic context

Birth of the Irish Republic by Walter Paget showing the General Post Office in Dublin during the shelling Image copyright Ireland Calling

The Irish had staged rebellions against British rule for centuries without ever achieving the aim of independence. At the start of the 20th century that looked set to change as political negotiations had led the British Government to consider a Home Rule Bill.

However, all such moves were suspended by the British at the outbreak of the First World War, leaving the Irish unsure as to whether they would achieve independence.

200,000 Irishmen fought for Britain during the WWI

More than 200,000 Irishmen then went on to fight for Britain in the First World War.

However, while many Irish people supported the war effort, many others questioned whether Irish soldiers should be employed fighting for Britain and felt they should be fighting for Ireland instead.

Many Irish nationalists also saw a supreme irony in the concept that the war was ostensibly being fought to protect small nations – Belgium having been invaded by Germany.

Rebels felt Ireland was ‘small nation’ – should be free

Those nationalists pointed out that Ireland too was a small nation and had been occupied by the British for centuries. It too should be allowed to be free.

Why were the British involved in a war to maintain Belgium’s independence when they would not allow Ireland to be independent?

Many Irish people saw this as hypocrisy.

Irish nationalists staged a rebellion

Easter Proclamation of 1916. The rebellions inspired the Irish song 'Foggy Dew'

Easter Proclamation of 1916

A small group of Irish nationalists staged a rebellion at Easter time in 1916. The rebellion was quickly put down by the British army and many of the rebels were later executed.

The rebellion produced mixed emotions amongst Irish people at that time. Many did not support the rebels and felt the rising was a mistake.

However, their sentiments changed when the British decided to execute the rebels as a warning to others.

It was seen as brutal and gross over-reaction.

Far from acting as a warning to the others, the heavy handed tactics increased support for the nationalist cause among ordinary Irish citizens.
See how The Foggy Dew sums up Irish feelings about the Easter Rising

Foggy Dew
Foggy Dew Irish feelings of Easter Rising
Foggy Dew Videos
Lyrics and Chords

Click through to our series of readable articles on the Easter Rising to find out more.

Main Groups:
Political Background
Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Volunteer Force

The Fighting:

The Rebel Plan
The Rebels Attack
The British Reaction


Leaders Executed
Public Reaction