The Foggy Dew is a masterful piece of work.
It both tells the story of the rebellion at the same time as describing the sentiments many Irish people felt as they reflected on what happened.
They felt things could have been so different if only some of those 200,000 Irish servicemen had fought with the rebels instead of fighting for Britain in foreign war zones.
As down the glen one Easter morn
In the opening verse the singer describes being passed by squadrons of marching men as he rode into Dublin city that Easter morn. They were the Irish rebels going into action. There were no pipes playing or drums beating as might be expected on a military march.
Instead, the only sound was the Angelus bell ringing out across the River Liffey, which runs through Dublin. The Angelus bell was rung from churches as a call to prayer, perhaps the suggestion is that the coming rebellion has right on its side.
They flung out the flag of war
One of the buildings captured by the rebels was the General Post Office in Dublin, where they flung out the republican flag – the flag of war.
The feeling of the rebels was that even if they lost their lives by their actions, it was better to die on Irish soil for an Irish cause than to die for Britain’s sake in foreign battle fields like Suvla and Sud El Bar.
Ominously though for the rebels, their campaign had hardly begun before the British are sailing in “with their great big guns” to restore order.
O had they died by Pearse’s side
The singer then points out that it was Britain that had bade Irish soldiers to fight so that small nations might be free.
He points out the irony felt by many Irish people at that time: had those soldiers fought in the rebellion, had “they died by Pearse’s side” then the outcome could have been different.
Patrick Pearse was one of the leaders of the rebellion and the first to be executed afterwards.
See videos of Foggy Dew with various artists, and also Sinead O’Connor with a video of The Moorlough Shore (same melody as The Foggy Dew).
Click through to our series of readable articles on the Easter Rising to find out more.