The Irish Rovers have been selling out worldwide and are now fast approaching.
For over 50 years, “these international ambassadors of Irish music have maintained their timeless ability to deliver a rollicking, rousing performance of good cheer – one that will soon have you singing and clapping along. Their songs have become anthems of revelry and joy among generation after generation of fans.” – Belfast Telegraph. This year’s tour is also an album release for “The Unicorn, the Continuing Story”.
50 Years ago The Irish Rovers had a breakout hit with their second album, The Unicorn. 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.
This year the Rovers have been officially honored as one of Ireland’s greatest ambassadors by Ireland’s newest and most state of the art museum. “The Irish Rovers are iconic, world class and with very a long career,” says Dublin’s EPIC Ireland Museum Director, Mervyn Greene. “That’s important to us”. As it happens, The Unicorn album is part of EPIC’s Irish Rovers installation.
The Unicorn, which was in fact a last minute add to the original album, left us all with a tear or two, plus the unanswered question, “Whatever happened to the Unicorns when the ark left them stranded on the shore?”
Since that first big hit, the band returned to the charts 15 more times with other songs, nevertheless, the magic of The Unicorn remains. To pay appropriate tribute on its Gold Anniversary, the Rovers are releasing “The Unicorn, The Continuing Story”. It includes all new recordings, plus the sequel to The Unicorn song, which answers the question of the last fifty years.
A soon to be released music video will also tell the Continuing Story of The Unicorn. The Rovers are vey happy to announce that the World Wildlife Federation is assisting in production of the video which will be released within the next few weeks.
Since the 60’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. Throughout the 70’s, the band hosted their first of three international television series, “The Irish Rovers Show”, and throughout the next 20 years their following weekly television shows, “The Rovers Comedy House” and “Party with The Rovers” brought Ireland and other Irish musicians into the living rooms of North America.
More recently, their 2012 Drunken Sailor album started a resurgence by going viral on YouTube, making news headlines back home in Belfast and putting them back on radio across North America. The 2015 “50 Years” triple CD broke tour sales records, while the lads returned to the small screen with three more North American television specials, “The Irish Rovers Home In Ireland”, “The Irish Rovers Christmas”, “The Irish Rovers LIVE on St. Patrick’s Day / 50th Anniversary Special”, all produced in the last few years.
The days of the long tours are finally coming to an end for these Irish lads as they are now completing one last world tour. After that, they will rove again only for special events, festivals and longer stays.
The iconic Celtic super-band, have sold millions of recordings, gaining countless converts to Irish music through the power of their foot-stomping, intoxicating songs, spirited humor and jubilant showmanship. – Owen McNally, Hartford Courant
Years of touring and playing haven’t eroded the band’s ferocious chops. Those musicians are so tight. They’re virtuosos! – Tallahassee Democrat
There’s no getting away from the quality of the Millar cousin’s vocals, vintage Irish balladeers from Ballymena with calculated wit and whimsy and a brogue to win the ladies hearts. – Otago Daily Times, New Zealand
The Irish Rovers celebrate a bonny resurgence… From the recent resurge in popularity it would seem the lads themselves have returned to their glory days, and are still charging. – The Morning Call
An unforgettable experience! The Irish Rovers excite even the most discerning audience member into having a rip-roaring good time. – Foundation for the Performing Arts
Members of The Irish Rovers, all renowned musicians in their own right:
Over 25 years as an Irish Rover, banjo player Sean O’Driscoll is originally from Blarney, Co. Cork, and now living back in Cork City. He spent many years living in Minneapolis where he lead music sessions and performed and recorded with accordion player Paddy O’Brien (Hill 16) and others. Big Sean has long been a bright light in the traditional music scene and now back in Cork, the weekly music sessions and recordings continue.
A Rover all his life, band leader, vocalist and songwriter, George Millar (from Ballymena) first played as an Irish Rover when he and Jimmy Ferguson formed the band in 1963. As an award winning music producer and songwriter, he has seen the legendary band through their 50th anniversary and beyond. His study and focus as a songwriter is on Celtic history and emigration.
Golden voiced Ian Millar, born in Ballymena, is vocalist / guitar and bass player for the Rovers. Ian took over his from his father Joe Millar carrying on the legacy and family tradition.
Gerry (fiddle) O’Connor (from Dundalk) gerryoconnor.net/ has been playing on Irish Rovers albums and television specials for many years. From an early age Gerry was involved Irish music and dance, winning numerous All Ireland titles between 1967 and 1973 in a range of formations including duet, trio and four Céili Band titles. A four times winner of The Fiddler of Oriel competition, Gerry also was co-founder and first Artistic Director of Ceol Chairlinn, in Carlingford , Co Louth and is also the Traditional Arts coordinator at the newly established Creative-Connexions Irish/ Catalan Arts festival in Sitges.
Top multi-insrumentalist Morris Crum (from Carnlough) has also has been playing on Irish Rovers albums and television specials for many years.
Bodhran player, Fred Graham‘s (from Belfast) performance history goes back to the time he was five following marching bands in Northern Ireland with a drum he made out of an old paint tin. Fred played in an accordion marching band in Belfast and a Dixieland Jazzband for over two decades in Montreal. He also played and competed with 2- award-wining Scottish Pipe Bands in Montreal. Now he is one of the country’s top bodhran players and in high demand for his high performance hand-made bodhrans.
The Rovers lively flute/whistle player Geoffrey Kelly (the only Scot on stage, from Dumfries) is also a founder of Canada’s Spirit of the West. He and John Mann are Spirit’s primary songwriters. Geoff is also a full-time member of The Paperboys.