The Band played mainly traditional Irish songs although Will and George both wrote original material.
They were hugely popular in Canada, so much so in fact that Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau asked them to become Canadian citizens and represent the nation around the world. By the end of the 80s they had represented Canada at no fewer than five World Expos.
By this time they had also released an extremely impressive 25 albums and starred in several series of their various TV shows. They were honoured with a Performing Rights Organization’s (PROCAN) Harold Moon Award to mark their quarter Century contribution to Canadian music.
Looking to the future
The band is now without three of its original members. Will left in 1994 to re-embark on his solo career, Joe retired in 2005 and Jimmy sadly passed away in 1997. The band is still touring though with more recent recruits, Ian Millar, Sean O’Driscoll, John Reynolds and Fred Graham joining George and Wilcil. Ian Millar is Joe’s son and has inherited his father’s rich voice.
The band celebrated their 45 year anniversary in 2010 by releasing Gracehill Fair which won the Vancouver Island Music Award for Song of the Year.
They also headed back to Ireland to film a DVD in locations such as Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, Carnlough Harbour and many other places along Northern Ireland to mark the occasion. George said: “This is our home, for all of us. We want to show the world what the northwest Irish coast is like. I’ve travelled the world now for over 40 years and there’s nothing like it.”
In 2012 The Irish Rovers released a new album, Drunken Sailor. It contained a mixture of new material and classic Irish drinking songs. The release of the album was in response to a remarkably successful YouTube video of the band’s recording of the title track which has 5 million views and counting.
Below is their performance of The Drunken Sailor.