No end in sight for The Irish Rovers
The legendary Irish Rovers will be performing at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre on April 3, 2023
In 2020 The Irish Rovers released, ‘Saints And Sinners’ – their most autobiographical album to date. The previous album ‘Up Among the Heather – The Scottish Album’ reflects the Scots influence on their northern Irish roots.
Canada has been home to the Rovers since its inception in the early 1960s. George Millar says, “It’s been a bit odd, being from both Ireland and Canada. Some fans have found it confusing as well, asking where we’re from. At times I’ve felt like a man with no country.” This led to the song ‘Band Without A Country’ from their 2020 album ‘Saints And Sinners,’ which tells their story from Ireland to Toronto and beyond.
Over the last 57 years, Ireland has felt the impact of The Irish Rovers’ long career of bringing Ireland and Irish music to the rest of the world. Their homeland now thanks the legendary band in a big way.
The Rovers were honoured with an official Mayor’s Reception and sold out gig in the their hometown of Ballymena, N. Ireland for all they have done over the years for the music industry, and for promoting Ireland across North America and beyond. They were also honoured and hosted in Dublin by EPIC Museum Director Mervyn Greene who considers the Irish Rovers as one of Ireland’s greatest émigrés: “The Irish Rovers are iconic, world class and with very a long career. That’s important to us in Ireland. They’ve truly taken Ireland with them and shown the world.”
As young Irish immigrants themselves, the Rovers became so much a part of the Canadian culture that Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau personally asked them to become Canadian citizens so they could officially represent Canada around the world.
In 1968, The Irish Rovers had a breakout hit with their second album, The Unicorn, https://youtu.be/mN- uA9CiV_w .
That album and ‘lucky little ditty’ of a title track written by Shel Silverstein, took them from folk clubs of America to concert halls and television sets worldwide.
Since that first big hit, the band returned to the charts 15 more times with other songs, nevertheless, the magic of The Unicorn remained.
To pay appropriate tribute on its Gold Anniversary in 2017, the Rovers released ‘The Unicorn, The Continuing Story’ with new recordings of the original Unicorn album, plus the sequel to The Unicorn song, which gave us the answer to an age old question: What happened to the Unicorns when the ark left them stranded on the shore?”
The World Wildlife Fund, and wildlife cinematographer Adam Ravetch assisted with the production of this video…
Since the 1960’s, the Celtic super-group travelled the world as musical ambassadors taking them as far as the Arctic Circle, Japan, and Germany, with regular tours to Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
The Rovers first became known in the US during the ‘60s on shows like The Tonight Show, The Smothers Brothers, Mike Douglas Show, The Dating Game (George Millar actually won the date), and even starring in The Virginian several times.
In the ‘70’s they hosted their first of three international television series, The Irish Rovers Show, and throughout the next 20 years their weekly television shows brought Ireland into living rooms of America and beyond with Party With The Rovers and The Rovers Comedy House.
In 2012, The Irish Rovers were back on radio with their Drunken Sailor album, which went viral on YouTube, and made news headlines back home in Belfast. A new younger audience was captured worldwide.
CBC producer Erin Boudreau saw the Belfast news articles about their new Titanic video and asked George Millar to sing his new song “The Titanic” for their documentary, The Pride of Belfast.
The last decade, the lads returned to the small screen with three North American television specials, ‘The Irish Rovers Home In Ireland,’ ‘The Irish Rovers Christmas,’ and ‘The Irish Rovers LIVE on St. Patrick’s Day / 50th Anniversary Special.’
In 2015 their 50 Years triple CD set broke tour sales records and remains the greatest of their greatest hits.
Lead image: The Irish Rovers in 2022: On stage will be George Millar, Ian Millar, Davey Walker, Gerry O’Connor, Geoffrey Kelly, Fred Graham, and joining the band onstage for the first time will be Shane Farrell and Jimmy Keane. Photo submitted