Canon Charles O Neill, a parish priest from Kilcoo, is credited for writing the lyrics of ‘The Foggy Dew’ in 1919. The music was most likely composed a little earlier. O Neill (penned the air (or aria) after he attended a sitting of the first Dáil Éireann in Dublin. The Dáil is Ireland’s House of Representatives, the lower house of the nation’s Oireachtas (legislature).
Legend claims that O Neill was ‘moved’ during the roll call for the inaugural assembly after “faoi ghlas ag na Gaill” was called out in response to a number of the names read out. The Gaelic phrase means ‘locked up by foreigners,’ and it refers to the imprisonment of Irish independence advocates by the British Crown.
This experience is credited for the inspiration for O Neill to write a song that
commemorates the Easter Rising of 1916.