Irish Rovers’ Farewell to Rovin’ Tour

Band celebrates 50 years of making Irish music in Butte, Bozeman and Billings

New & Notable

Irish Rovers bring their “Farewell to Rovin’ Tour” to Bozeman’s Ellen Theatre, Feb. 16; Billings’s Alberta Bair, Feb. 17; and Butte’s Mother Lode, Feb. 18.

Irish Rovers' George Millar
Rovers’ leader George Millar: “If they walk away whistling ‘Drunken Sailor,’ we’ve done our job properly.”

A title of a classic Irish folk song became the perfect name for a group of young Irish immigrants whose members have spent five decades touring the globe. The Irish Rovers, formed in Toronto in 1963, helped popularize Irish music around the world. But now, the band bids farewell to their life on the road.

Their new triple CD release, The Irish Rovers – 50 Years, celebrates the band’s 50th anniversary with a collection of greatest hits, gleaned from original recordings, (some dating back as far as their debut album, First of The Irish Rovers), and several new tunes, including “Raise a Glass to St. Patrick,” rounding out the triple CD.

The band agrees that it’s the love of the music and respect for each other that has kept the music coming. “But touring is a young man’s game,” says Rovers’ leader George Millar. “We will still be doing a CD now and again and we’ll still be doing public appearances for festivals and things like that. We’re getting away from the everyday grind.”

The members of the Rovers are both Catholic and Protestant and they have never tried to use the stage as a political platform. Standing together has been enough.

“We left Ireland to get away from all that,” said Millar. “We’re not a political band and religion was always a non-issue for us … People don’t walk away pondering things. If they walk away whistling ‘Drunken Sailor,’ we’ve done our job properly.”

At 40, the Rovers are celebrating a bonny resurgence. Buoyed by recent DVD, “Home in Ireland,” their 2012 album, Drunken Sailor, and hit single, “The Titanic,” the lads are once again making international headlines and enjoying radio airplay.

This attention has also brought them a new generation of fans and given them more than 10 million views on YouTube. “It is quite amazing,” says Millar. “It’s bringing a lot of younger people back to the show. I’m thinking, God, I’ll never get retired at this rate!”