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The Irish Rovers

Drunken Sailor

Drunken Sailor (2012)



The Irish Rovers is a group of Irish musicians, half of whom now live in Canada. The Irish folk group created in 1963 and named after the traditional song "The Irish Rover" is best known for their international television series, contributing to the popularization of Irish Music in North America, and for the songs "The Unicorn", "Drunken Sailor", "Wasn’t That a Party", "The Orange and the Green", "Whiskey on a Sunday", "Lily the Pink" and "The Black Velvet Band".

The primary voices heard in the group’s early songs were Will Millar (tenor), Jimmy Ferguson (baritone), George Millar and Joe Millar, and in the last twenty years, also John Reynolds and Ian Millar. Wilcil McDowell’s accordion has been a signature sound of the band throughout their more than fifty years.

All but one of the band members are from Ireland. Founding member George Millar and his cousin Ian are both from Ballymena, original member Wilcil McDowell is from Larne, Sean O’Driscoll from Cork, Gerry O’Connor from Dundalk, with Morris Crum from Carnlough and percussionist Fred Graham from Belfast. Flute and whistle player Geoffrey Kelly was born in Dumfries, Scotland.

In the 1980s, the group briefly renamed itself The Rovers. During this period, their "Wasn’t That a Party" led to crossover success in the country rock genre.

The Irish Rovers have represented Canada at five World Expos.