The Irish Rovers

The Irish Rover

There Irish Rovers were a traditional band formed in 1963 whose career would span over 40 years.

Canada 1963 was the year when two young lads from the north of Ireland met for the first time at an Irish event in Toronto. George Millar who was 16 years old at the time and Jim Ferguson, 23, were both emigrants who sang together when they first met, this was when the Irish Rovers was firstborn.

A year later Joe Millar, a cousin of George, also immigrated to Canada and joined the two lads in their adventures in performing Irish music. Joe was a talented accordion and harmonica player but was also able to sing traditional Irish ballads and would prove an essential part of the Irish Rovers.

Soon after Will Millar, George’s brother also joined the Irish rovers after which they set out to conquer America in an adventure that would take them through many years of performing great music and providing brilliant entertainment for those lucky enough to have seen them.

The Irish Rovers First Album

Getting the opportunity to perform in San Francisco’s The Purple Onion would prove worthwhile as each of their gigs was sold out, for a staggering 22 weeks. It was in the States of California their talent was really discovered and landed a recording contract with Decca Records. After three years of establishing the Irish Rovers, their first album was released and was humbly named The First Of The Irish Rovers. With great success in their first album, they released a second that saw a huge response to their song The Unicorn becoming a massive hit.

Lucky for television viewers the Irish Rovers performed shows on a weekly basis in Canada and later to Ireland. Their television broadcasts were aired throughout the ’70s and early 80’s but with an extra member to the group by the name of Wilcil McDowell, who was also from Ireland.

Wasn’t That A Party was released in 1980 which shot them to the top of the charts, the song was written by Tom Paxton in homage to the group and the song became widely known around the globe.

In 1995, Will Millar retired from the group and their close friend, Jimmy Ferguson, passed away in 1997 but today the legend of the Irish Rovers still continues in strength with new members Kevin McKeown and John Reynolds helping to keep the spirit of the Irish Rovers alive.

The Irish rovers performed many gigs throughout the years and had released many albums that are loved by many. Today they still continue to tour the world and are still a huge success just as they were when they had started this musical adventure.

If you haven’t heard the Irish Rovers you are for sure missing out in one of the most famous, talented Irish folk groups.

Albums by the Irish Rovers

  • The First Of The Irish Rovers (1966)
  • The Unicorn (1967)
  • All Hung Up (1968)
  • The Life Of The Rover (1969)
  • On The Shores Of America (1971)
  • The Best Of The Irish Rovers (1972)
  • The Irish Rovers Live (1972)
  • Tales To Warm Your Mind (1973)
  • Emigrate! Emigrate! (1973)
  • Greatest Hits (1974)
  • Children Of The Unicorn (1976)
  • The Irish Rovers In Australia (1976)
  • Tall Ships And Salty Dogs (1979)
  • The Rovers (1980)
  • No More Bread + Butter (1981)
  • Party Album (1982)
  • Pain In My Past (1982)
  • It Was A Night Like This (1982)
  • Twentieth Anniversary (1984)
  • Party With The Rovers (1985)
  • Hardstuff (1989)
  • Silver Anniversary (1989)
  • The Boys Come Rolling Home (1992)
  • Years May Come, Years May Go (1993)
  • Celebrate! The First 30 Years (1994)
  • Celtic Collection: The Next Thirty Years (1995)
  • The Irish Rovers’ Gems (1996)
  • Come Fill Up Your Glasses (1998)
  • Songs of Christmas (1999)
  • Down By The Lagan Side (2000)
  • Live in Concert (2003)
  • Another Round (2002)
  • 40 Years A-Rovin’ (2005)
  • Still Rovin’ (2007)
  • Gracehill Fair (2010)
  • Home in Ireland (2011)
  • Merry Merry Time of Year (2011)
  • Drunken Sailor (2012)
  • 50 Years (2014)
  • Songs for the Wee Folk (2015)
  • 50th Anniversary, LIVE on St. Patrick’s Day (2016)
  • The Unicorn, The Continuing Story (2017)

Last updated March 2, 2020.

About the Author

Róisín Anraí
Róisín is a cat lover who is also a freelance writer and regular contributor to our site.