SongNotes: The Foggy Dew. Jamie sings, Jim Conway’s stunning whistle solo

Jamie O’Reilly
The Foggy Dew

The Foggy Dew is the finale on the album.

Listen here:

Jamie O’Reilly, vocals
James Conway, tin whistle
Peter Swenson, guitar, archlute
Michael Smith, guitar
Bob Weber, cello
John Floeter, bass
Engineer, Bruce Roper
Mixing by Peter Swenson, Michael Smith

Fifteen plus years on from when I recorded it, I listen to this stirring Irish ballad with great pride. It features one of Chicago’s best on tin whistle, and an ensemble of wonderful musicians. Plaintive, rich and full.

I met the whistle player Jim Conway in the Self-Emploment for the Artist course I taught for the Department of Cultural Affairs in the Chicago Loop. I soon learned of his skills as both harmonica (harp) player, and traditional Irish musician. The Kerry Madwoman CD was getting made, with Michael Smith’s original music setting a formidable group of Patricia Monaghan’s poems, for a new song cycle. We’d done a few high-profile gigs and festivals. I wanted this powerful song to be the album’s finale.

James Conway, musician

Now as I revive my In Old Chicago show, the song will sit nicely in the second act as the definitive ballad of the Easter Rising and Irish pride. For the November concert, my niece Katrina will lead it off with the Uilleann pipes.

Though the Easter Rising was defeated, my Irish American relatives fought here for Home Rule, and Irish independence from Great Britain. At the same time, my Great Uncle Tuck was on trial as a conscientious objector to World War I, and nearly sent to federal prison before an eleventh hour action overturned the Court’s decision.
They were intense times!

Canon Charles O’Neill wrote The Foggy Dew to the tune Irish folk song, “Corraga Bawn.” It tells the story of the Easter Rising, the defeat, and reflects on the thoughts of those who believed that the Irishmen who fought for Britain during the war should have stayed home and fought for Irish independence instead. (*source: Wiki)

The Foggy Dew (lyrics)

Twas down the glen one Easter morn
To the city fair rode I.
When Ireland lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipe did hum, and no battle drum
Did sound its dread tattoo,
But the Angelus Bells o’er the Liffey swells
Rang out in the foggy dew.

Right proudly high oe’r Dublin town
they hung out a flag of war.
T’was better to die ‘neath an Irish sky
Than at Sulva or Sud el Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through
While Brittania’s huns with their long-range guns
Sailed in from the foggy dew.

Twas England bade out wild geese go
That small nations might be free,
their only graves are by Suvla’s wave
on the fringe of the great North Sea
But had they died by Pearse’s side or fought with de Valera true
Their graves we’d keep where the Fenians sleep
neeth the hills of the foggy dew

The bravest fell and the solemn bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide
In the springing of the year.
And the world did gaze in deep amaze
At those fearless men and true
Who bore the fight that freedom’s light
Might shine through the foggy dew.
And the world did gaze in deep amaze
At those fearless men and true
Who bore the fight that freedom’s light
Might shine through the foggy dew.

Purchase the Songs of the Kerry Madowman CD here:

© J. O’Reilly Productions, recording and blog
Kerry Madwoman CD photo by Francine Gourguechon