Is the Wild Rover an anti-drinking song?

Symbols of Ireland
With St Patrick’s Day coming, thousands of Irish music fans will be polishing up the old vocal chords in readiness for a session of hard drinking and hearty singing.

The Wild Rover will no doubt be near the top of the list – every year thousands of people belt it out enthusiastically in between sips of Guinness in pubs across the world.

Irish Guinness - pure nectarIt’s perhaps ironic then to note that many people believe The Wild Rover is actually an anti-drinking song, written to support the temperance movements in the 19th century. If so then it has failed spectacularly, as the St Patrick’s Day revellers will no doubt testify.

Still, it’s intriguing to think that a song written to warn of the perils of alcohol is now seen as an ideal accompaniment to a hard drinking session. But that’s just one of the many fascinating ironies of Irish music.

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Patrick Kehoe

Pat Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dubliners and Planxty.

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