Irish Rovers Kick off 45 Year Anniversary with New CD, DVD & Tour starting March 7, 2011 including Aulstville Theatre in Cornwall Ontario – SEE DATES BELOW

Cornwall ON – One of Canada’s favorite music groups is coming to Cornwall Ontario and a town near you as The Irish Rovers kick off their tour March 7, 2011!

The Irish Rovers began in Ontario and now they return to celebrate Their 45 Years!

The Irish Rovers Celebrate 45 Years of Music with their

“Home in Ireland” tour!

After 45 Years – They’re Still Spreading The Luck o’ the Irish with their latest CD, Gracehill Fair, a new DVD, Home in Ireland.

“Throughout the 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 Telegaph, 2010

This year, The Irish Rovers celebrate 45 years since their debut release, appropriately titled, The First of The Irish Rovers, with their 2011-Home in Ireland tour. It has been a magical journey from their first to their latest release, Gracehill Fair, which has had high praise from Celtic radio announcers from Belfast to Maui.

As with most of their albums over the last decade, “Gracehill Fair” was recorded in both Canada and Ireland on their own record label, Rover Records. The CD includes new original rollicking drinking songs for which the band is best known, as well as a selection of beautiful original ballads. Also recently, their well-known recording of “Drunken Sailor” has gained over 3 million hits on You Tube! Photo above from l,  John Reynolds,  George Millar, Ian Millar, Fred Graham, Wilcil McDowell, Sean O’Driscoll – taken at Carnlough Harbour, Northern Ireland

In September of 2010, the boys chose their favourite spots to film while producing a new DVD , Home in Ireland, around their old stomping grounds, in Northern Ireland. The locations included Carnlough Harbour, Dunluce Castle, The Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy Harbour, Slemish Mountain, Glenarm and Galgorm Manor near Ballymena. Some of the locations, they had filmed at many years earlier. The entire time they were filming the DVD in Northern Ireland, they were followed by a behind the scenes camera which caught the process as well as some hysterical unplanned moments. These mini-movies can be found on their website video page.

The story of The Irish Rovers is one for the big screen; three award-winning national and international television series, topping the music charts again and again, several appearances as musical bank robbers on “The Virginian”, and more than 45 years of touring their music around the world. They have represented Canada at no less than five world Expos and received Canada’s ‘Harold Moon Award’ in recognition for a quarter century of contributions to the International music world. Photo below, from left, Will Millar, Jimmy Ferguson, George Millar, Wilcil McDowell, Joe Millar.

The DVD will be released during the Home in Ireland tour. Founder, George Millar says,

“It’s basically The Irish Rovers ‘Coming Home’ because this is our home, for all of us. We want to show the world what the northwest Irish coast is like. I’ve traveled the world now for over 40 years and there’s nothing like it.”

The Rovers’ freedom to produce their own music, combined with their years of experience, original compositions, and an All-Ireland Champion in their ranks, has contributed to their longevity. They, in fact, were the inspiration for one of the world’s best-known party anthems, “Wasn’t That A Party” by Tom Paxton.  The boys in the band have lived large.

Their story begins in Ontario, where the 16-year old George Millar and 23-year old Jim Ferguson, both new emigrants from N. Ireland, met in Toronto at an Irish function. They sang together ‘til dawn; and so the Irish Rovers were launched. George’s cousin, Joe Millar, immigrated to Canada the following year and was recruited as he stepped off the plane. After several successful months in Ontario as The Irish Rovers, the trio made their way to Calgary, Alberta, to join forces with George’s brother, Will.

“Will, was presenting a children’s TV show called Just 4 Fun. We went on the show and sang, Whiskey You’re the Devil,” George Millar recalls. “There were these little five-year-olds sitting on the floor in front of us. Of course the switchboards lit up with people going, ‘Please don’t be putting those songs in our children’s ears.’ That’s how we began.”

The success of their first album, lead to a second, which included a sweet little song which they had been playing in the clubs, called “The Unicorn”. The words were from a poem written by Shel Silverstein who wrote for Playboy. The lads “stuck a tune to it”, and the result was a multi-million seller, beloved by a generation. Since then, there have been dozens of releases and worldwide tours.

A few years later, The Irish Rovers hosted their first television series, “The Irish Rovers Show”, Canada’s most popular variety show of its time. When asked which guests stand out, Rover, Wilcil McDowell says,

“Johnny Cash came on our show – this was the early 70’s. We were expecting just him and his guitar, who would normally be backed by our little house band. But he came in with the June Carter, The Tennessee Three, Carl Perkins and the entire Carter Family. It was terrific but our producers were worried that we couldn’t afford them all. Johnny said “Don’t worry about it. Ireland has been very good to me. Just consider this, a part of the favor returned. And I think instead of doing just the one show, they did three.”

Today, The Irish Rovers are going stronger than ever and continue to perform in theatres around the world, with original members George Millar (also a prolific songwriter), and Wilcil McDowell. Will Millar left the group in 1994, and sadly Jimmy Ferguson passed away in 1997. In 2005 Joe Millar also retired from the band, while his son, Ian (who inherited his father’s golden tones) took up the family ranks. Big Sean O’Driscoll joined the lads in 1995, the charmingly hilarious John Reynolds has been playing with the band for nearly 20 years, and drummer, Fred Graham has been touring with the lads since 2007. Additional details can be found on their website.

Join in the celebration of 45 years of music from the legendary Irish Rovers!

Home in Ireland Tour Schedule – Includes 12 Ontario dates.

March 7 – Owen Sound, ON – Roxy Theatre

March 8 – Blyth, ON – Memorial Hall

March9 – Drayton, ON – Drayton Festival Theatre

March11 – Clinton Twp, MI – Macomb Centre

March12 – Roscommon, MI – Kirtland Center For The Performing Arts

March 13 – Tecumseh, MI – Tecumseh Center For The Arts

March14 – Hamilton, ON – The Studio Theatre At Hamilton Place

March 15 – Belleville, ON – The Empire Theatre

March 17 – Sydney, NS – Centre 200

March18 – Halifax, NS – Casino Nova Scotia

March 19 – Moncton, NB – Casino New Brunswick

March 21 – Peterborough ON – Showplace Performance Centre

March 22 – Pembroke ON – Pembroke Festival Hall

March 23 – Brockville, ON –  Brockville Arts Centre

Thursday, Mar 24 Cornwall, ONAultsville Theatre

Tickets available at the Civic Complex Box Office, 100 Water St. East,  Cornwall Ontario

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm  (613) 938-9400  OR Purchase tickets on line at

March 25 –   North Bay, ON – Capitol Centre – 150 Main Street East

March 26 – Bracebridge, ON – Rene M Caisse Theatre

March 27 – Parry Sound, ON – Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts

You can visit the band on Facebook too!


  1. I live in the southern US, so I may never have the opportunity to hear this awesome connection to the music that shaped my own heritage. But I listen everywhere I go, thanks to CDs and cassettes. Great article, I learned a few things I didn’t know before and enjoyed the relaxed videos with the Lads.

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