Tune du Jour: “The Foggy Dew” – Traditional
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: The Chieftains & Sinead O’Connor vs. Screaming Orphans vs. The Wakes


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

The Chieftains & Sinead O’Connor vs. Screaming Orphans vs. The Wakes
The Chieftains & Sinead O’Connor:

Screaming Orphans:

The Wakes:

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. Cuspid says:

    Tough call here. All three versions are pretty good. I like how the version by the Screaming Orphans started out without drums, and then had the drums come in about half way through. The Chieftains & Sinead O’Connor didn’t have drums, while the Wakes used them from the beginning. I can’t decide which I prefer – drums or no drums. So I’m splitting the difference and going with the Screaming Orphans.

    TIme and distance have softened the impact of this song. I imagine it was quite powerful and emotional 100 years ago for that generation.

  2. RDubbs says:

    I loved all three versions (maybe that’s why I chose them). I voted for the Screaming Orphans because they scared the hell out of me.

  3. Pete Black says:

    An Irish classic with the venerable Chieftains fronted by Sinead O’Connor? That isn’t fair. Word on the street is there may have been pints of Guinness in the studio (Irish PEDs), further making this illegal. I have this recording and it’s a beautiful, understated version but the live ferocity of The Screaming Orphans made an impact on me. So I think they deserve the Loyola upset special. I heard they once opened for The Taciturn Orphans and completely blew them off the stage.

    The Wakes cover was also enjoyable with some lovely tin whistle leading the way. At one point The Oyster Band came to mind.

  4. Kerry Black says:

    The Chieftains play their instruments about as well as any band I can think of in any genre.

    Sinead is one of the finest vocalists I’ve ever heard.

    Some of you appear to have enjoyed the other two versions, and each of them probably sounds better than me singing in the shower.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s