Irish Rovers return with Titanic tribute

Irish Rovers
Irish Rovers

ULSTER-Canadian musical icons the Irish Rovers have recorded a song telling the story of the Titanic with its beginnings in Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

Rovers’ founder George Millar, a Ballymena man domiciled for most of his life in Canada, says: “Irish pride was at its highest, and the sinking devastated the Belfast shipyard and its workers. To this day they say with a wry smile – ‘she was all right when she left here’.”

The legendary Irish Rovers group, who were massively popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, are releasing their 40th north American album that will include the song which pays tribute to the Titanic.

The release of this album was prompted by millions of views of the Irish Rovers’ Drunken Sailor recording on YouTube. No one was more surprised of this attention from a younger generation than the Rovers themselves, but they’re happy to see it.

So the band decided to produce an album full of tales of the sea, and the sinking of the Titanic is one of the largest maritime tragedies in history.

The legend of this mighty ship has both intrigued and haunted Millar for most of his life.

That may be because his birthday is April 14, the date in 1912 the ship met its icy end on the maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

The veteran singer/songwriter says he felt compelled to finally put this song down on paper for the ship’s 100th anniversary.

Recently, George has been nominated on his home base of Vancouver Island for his songwriting, and last year he won the VIMA top song honours for his composition, Gracehill Fair.

For this landmark 40th album, Millar wrote a number of new songs of the sea, including The Titanic, which gives one a feeling of descending the ocean depths to meet the great ship at her resting place, then being quickly swept away on a journey to her glory days, while charging across the high seas.

The Irish Rovers were created in 1963, named after the traditional folk song.

The group was best known for their international television series, networked by Ulster Television and Canadian broadcasting over a number of years, and renditions of traditional rollicking Irish drinking songs.

The primary voices in the group’s early songs were Will Millar (tenor), Jimmy Ferguson (baritone), George Millar and Joe Millar, and in the last 20 years, also John Reynolds and Ian Millar.

All of the band members are from Ireland. Founding member George and his cousin Ian are both from Ballymena, long-time group member Wilcil McDowell is from Larne, Sean O’Driscoll from Cork, with John Reynolds and percussionist Fred Graham both from Belfast.