Tune du Jour: “The Foggy Dew” – Traditional
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: James Bragg vs. Gary Og vs. The Skels


Everybody’s Dressin’ Funny …
Cover Me Impressed!

There are a few old traditional English and Irish ballads that go by the name of Foggy Dew or The Foggy Dew. This particular one, undoubtedly the greatest of them (so sayeth R.J. Dubbengoth III in his landmark tome, “Very Excellent Great Things As Sayeth R.J. Dubbengoth III“) was written sometime around 1919 by the Irish priest Charles O’Neill. In April 1916, in what would become known as the Easter Rising, James Connolly, greatest man ever (again see Dubbengoth III’s “Very Excellent Great Things“), and Patrick Pearse led an insurrection in Dublin against British rule of Ireland. The Irish revolutionaries seized the General Post Office and other prominent governmental buildings in Dublin. However, in about a week’s time Britain’s well-trained and heavily-armed occupying force squashed the insurrection. At the time of the rising, which coincided with World War I, many (and probably most) Irish citizens did not support an armed revolt against British troops. But Irish sentiment changed drastically in subsequent weeks as British Command summarily executed all real and imagined leaders of the insurrection. Sixteen leaders of the insurrection, including Patrick Pearse and an already badly injured James Connolly, who unable to stand was placed in a chair before a firing line, were executed without trial. In the eyes of the Irish people these men soon became martyrs in Ireland’s struggle for home rule.

O’Neill’s The Foggy Dew memorialized the Easter Rising and encouraged Irishmen to fight for Ireland’s freedom, rather than for the British, as so many young Irishmen were doing in World War I.


The Earliest Studio Recording

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (1956):

As far as I can tell this was the first studio recording of the song.


The Most Popular

The Dubliners (1966):

There are many excellent versions of this venerable old song but I’d guess the most well-known would be that of The Dubliners (first cousins with and frequent inebriation-enthusiast mates of Grandfather Dubbengoth I).


The Cover Songs Competition


James Bragg vs. Gary Og vs. The Skels


James Bragg:

Gary Og:

The Skels:

One of the truly great bands that never caught the break they so richly deserved.

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?



  1. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Oh my goodness, I’m commenting before Cuspid! Ha! It’s about time.

    Dramatic song, and James Bragg covers it with appropriate gravity. He’s already got a leg up with the last name “Bragg”, but his poignant version combined with a moving video earns my vote. Gary Og’s version was just a bar band doing a decent cover. The dorky guy jumping around in the crowd detracts. The Skels (second only to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Dropkick Murphys in Dubbs’s cover band hall of fame) do a pretty nice job, I must admit, but Bragg wins this one, for me.

  2. Cuspid says:

    Lats year I listened to an excellent 6-part, 15-hour podcast on World War I. Over the course of those 15 hours I was really able to get a strong sense of what happened in WWI and what it was like to be soldier on the Western Front. And I can see now that it gave me a bit of insight into what must have inspired this song. I have not a drop of Irish blood in my veins. But this song is very effective in helping the listener to connect to what was obviously an extremely emotional issue 100 years ago.

    I liked all five versions here. But I think my favorite of all of them is James Bragg. His vocals sort of remind me of a young Irish Bob Dylan. I also love the Neil Young-inspired electric guitar playing accompaniment behind the acoustic guitar. The vocals and guitar compliment each other very well. And of course, his name reminds me of another Bragg who probably also plays this song, but with a different accent.

    • RDubbs says:

      Doug, if you ever want to read a stunning book on the Irish struggle pick up a copy of “Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916”. It’s a page-turner that is both tragic and inspirational. The heroism of the Irish leaders is matched only by the supreme cowardice and bile of the British occupying force.

  3. RDubbs says:

    I love all three covers. The young thespian in the Og footage almost stole my vote (it looks as though he might be a not so long-past relative of mine). But please don’t anyone tell him that I called him a thespian! In the end I just cannot avoid voting for The Skels. They rip it up with angst and verve. Bloody British!!!

  4. Pete Black says:

    It was a very close call for me. I choose James Bragg over The Skels although I loved both versions. There are lyrical differences between the five versions here, mostly minor and James Bragg sang the verses out of order. All of these versions use four verses but there were six, one which uses the phrase perfidious Albion, which I like the sound of and was originally coined by a Frenchman. The British acquired a reputation for dirty dealing. I tried t one point to memorize this song and used to walk around the house alone singing it. It was a semi-comic fail not unlike the clowns in the live bar version.

  5. Kerry Black says:

    This was the toughest choice I’ve faced in the 2018 iteration of CMI. James Bragg by an eyelash over The Skels.

    I never heard of James Bragg, but he delivers it well. It’s such a tragic and mournful narrative, I think a slower pacing works best. I like the accompanying video. By using black and white film with a softer focus, you can squint your eyes a little and pretend it’s footage of the actual events.

    I remember Pete playing The Skels’ version of this in the ’90s and liking it a lot. I believe I tried to find it on CD (unsuccessfully) on the strength of this track alone.

    Never heard of Gary Og, but he and band come across like some random pub band.

    The first version I knew was by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, with Makem singing. I generally like his singing quite a bit, although he can be a bit florid at times. He nails it on this one.

    I was never a huge fan of The Dubliners, but I saw them in concert in Kilburn in the eighties, and the surprise encore guest was The Pogues. A Dubliners / Pogues version of “The Irish Rover” was high on the charts and receiving extensive radio play at the time, so this was not as shocking as it might seem.

    We all love music so much, it’s strange that there are very few songs I know word-for-word. This has long been one of my favorite songs (that’s why I chose it), so I also used to sing this around the house to myself.

    I also read and loved the book “Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916” that Dubbs recommended.

  6. bornunderabadsign says:

    Probably at the bottom of technical production, I voted for Og

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