The Irish Rover

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"The Irish Rover"
The Irish Rover.jpg
Single by The Pogues and The Dubliners
B-side "The Rare Old Mountain Dew"
Released March 1987
Format 7" and 12" Vinyl
Genre Celtic rock
Length 3:39
Songwriter(s) Traditional
The Pogues singles chronology
"The Irish Rover"
"Fairytale of New York"
"The Irish Rover"
"Fairytale of New York"

"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 song describes a gigantic twenty-seven masted ship with a colourful crew and varied types of cargo in enormous amounts. The verses grow successively more extravagant about the wonders of the great ship. The seven-year voyage comes to a disastrous end after losing its way in the fog, striking a rock, and spinning nine times around before sinking with most of the crew and the captain's old dog aboard – everyone except the singer, who in the last line of the song is revealed to be the lone survivor of The Irish Rover's ill-fated final voyage, so there is no one alive to contradict the tale.


According to the 1966 publication Walton's New Treasury of Irish Songs and Ballads 2, the song is attributed to songwriter/arranger J. M. Crofts.[1]

The Pogues & The Dubliners[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[2] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[3] 8
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[4] 25

Cultural impact[edit]

  • "The Irish Rover" is one of the most popular Irish-Gaelic 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. Versions are listed below by notable artists in descending chronological order.


External links[edit]