Tuesday, 05 March 2013 22:29 | Written by Marc 'Lazy Rocker' Schneiders |
"THE IRISH ROVER”
ARTIST/BAND: DUBLINERS & POGUES
WRITTEN BY: TRADITIONAL
RELEASE DATE: 17 MARCH 1987
GENRE: IRISH FOLK, CELTIC ROCK
LABEL: STIFF RECORDS
PRODUCED BY: EAMONN CAMPBELL
FORMAT: 7" VINYL, 12" VINYL
TAKEN FROM: 25 YEARS CELEBRATION (DUBLINERS ALBUM)
Saint Patrick's Day
This month on March 17 a lot of people will celebrate Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick"). A good reason to pick a typical Irish folk tune as Song of the Month. What better track could I choose than "The Irish Rover" by The Dubliners & The Pogues??
But what is Saint Patrick's Day? This is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated every year on March 17. It is named after Saint Patrick, the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. For Christians, the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. However, it has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irishness and Irish culture.
The day generally involves public parades and festivals, céilithe, and wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
The Dubliners were an Irish folk band founded in Dublin in 1962. The band started off as The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group, named in honour of its founding member; they subsequently renamed themselves as The Dubliners. The group line-up has seen many changes over their fifty-year career. However, the group's success was centred around lead singers Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew, both of whom are now deceased. The band garnered international success with their lively Irish folk songs, traditional street ballads and instrumentals.
The band were regulars on the folk scenes in both Dublin and London in the early 1960s, until they were signed to the Minor Major label in 1965 after backing from Dominic Behan. They went on to receive extensive airplay on Radio Caroline, and eventually appeared on Top of the Pops in 1967 with hits "Seven Drunken Nights" and "Black Velvet Band". Often performing songs considered controversial at the time, they drew criticism from some folk purists and Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ had placed an unofficial ban on their music from 1967-71. During this time the band's popularity began to spread across mainland Europe and they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States. The group's success remained steady right through the 1970s and a number of collaborations with The Pogues in 1987 saw them enter the UK Singles Chart on another two occasions.
The Dubliners were instrumental in popularising Irish folk music in Europe, though they did not quite surpass the popularity of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in the United States. They influenced many generations of Irish bands, and their legacy can to this day be heard in the music of artists such as The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Much adored in their native country, covers of Irish ballads by Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly tend to be regarded as definitive versions. One of the most influential Irish acts of the 20th century, they celebrated 50 years together in 2012, making them Ireland's longest surviving musical act. Also in 2012, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards bestowed them with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Dubliners announced their retirement in the autumn of 2012, after 50 years of playing, following the death of founding member Barney McKenna.
The Pogues are a Celtic punk band from London, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996. The band reformed in 2001, and has been playing regularly ever since, most notably on the US East Coast around St Patrick's Day and across the UK and Ireland every December.
Their politically tinged music was informed by MacGowan and Stacy's punk backgrounds, yet used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, cittern, mandolin and accordion. The Pogues were founded in Kings Cross, a district of Central London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—pogue mahone being the Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse".
25 Years Celebration is a double album by The Dubliners. Recorded in 1987 and released following a special Late Late Show appearance by the group, 25 Years Celebration featured a number of special guests and featured "The Irish Rover", a collaboration with The Pogues, which returned The Dubliners to Top Of The Pops 20 years after they first performed "Seven Drunken Nights" on that show.
The recording of "The Irish Rover" by The Dubliners and The Pogues was released on Saint Patrick's Day 1987 and reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart and number one in the Irish Singles Chart that year. The track was recorded at Elephant Studios, London and produced by Eamonn Campbell.
"The Irish Rover" is an Irish folk song about a magnificent, though improbable, sailing ship that reaches an unfortunate end. It has been recorded by numerous artists, some of whom have made changes to the lyrics.
The origins of the song are uncertain but it is usually attributed to a little known songwriter/arranger named J.M. Crofts. Crofts is listed as the author in the 1966 publication, Walton's New Treasury of Irish Songs and Ballads 2.
Some of the lyrics have become corrupted over time. For example, the opening line of one of the verses is often presented as: "We had sailed seven years when the measles broke out". Measles is actually a corruption of mizzens, which refers to the third and smallest mast on a ship. Both measles and mizzens are now commonly used in versions by different performers.
The Irish Rover is one of the most popular Scottish country dances and is set to the music of the song.
The Irish Rovers, created in 1963, were named after the traditional song "The Irish Rover" by their mother in Ballymena, N. Ireland. They first recorded the song on their 1966 debut album, The First of the Irish Rovers.
Slugger O'Toole - a character referred to in The Irish Rover has been adopted as the name of a major political website in Northern Ireland.
In issue 26 of DC/Vertigo series Preacher when Cassidy describes his drinking buddies in New York City, the names are all taken from the Irish Rover.
"The Irish Rover" has been recorded many times by a variety of artists. Versions are listed below by notable artists in descending chronological order.
2012 - Happy Ol' Mc Weasel on their album No Offence
2012 - The German band Santiano on their album Bis ans Ende der Welt
2012 - The Mudmen on their album Donegal Danny
2011 - Fiddler's Green on their album Wall of Folk
2011 - Dropkick Murphys on their album Going Out in Style
2010 - Patrick Clifford on his album American Wake
2010 - The High Kings on their album Memory Lane
2009 - Culann's Hounds on their album One for the Road
2007 - Tommy Makem on the posthumous release The Legendary Tommy Makem Collection
2005 - Liam Clancy on his album Yes... Those Were The Days: The Essential Liam Clancy
2005 - Bounding Main on their album Lost at Sea, with an added chorus
2001 - The Tossers on their album Communication & Conviction: Last Seven Years
2000 - Sons of Maxwell on their album Sailor's Story
1998 - The Corsairs on their album The RED One
1994 - Orthodox Celts on their self-titled début album
1987 - The Dubliners with The Pogues on The Dubliners' album 25 Years Celebration
1975 - Ronnie Drew on his self-titled début solo album
1966 - The Irish Rovers on their début album, The First of the Irish Rovers
1962 - The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on their album Hearty and Hellish
On the fourth of July eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the grand city hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft, she was rigged fore-and-aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her.
She'd got several blasts, she'd twenty-seven masts
And we called her the Irish Rover.
We had one million bales of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stones
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
We had four million barrels of bones.
We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
Seven million barrels of porter.
We had eight million bails of old nanny goats' tails,
In the hold of the Irish Rover.
There was awl Mickey Coote who played hard on his flute
When the ladies lined up for his set
He was tootin' with skill for each sparkling quadrille
Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet
With his sparse witty talk he was cock of the walk
As he rolled the dames under and over
They all knew at a glance when he took up his stance
And he sailed in the Irish Rover
There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Jimmy McGurk who was scarred stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Tracey from Dover
And your man Mick McCann from the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover
We had sailed seven years when the measles broke out
And the ship lost it's way in a fog.
And that whale of the crew was reduced down to two,
Just meself and the captain's old dog.
Then the ship struck a rock, oh Lord what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around, and the poor dog was drowned
I'm the last of the Irish Rover