The Wild Rover
|The Wild Rover|
Historically, the song has been referred to in Irish folklore and, since the late sixteenth century, it has been noted in written records—although it is likely that some northern Atlantic fishing crews knew the song before these historical accounts were made. The song is of Scottish origin according to Northern Irishman Seamus Kennedy.
The song is a staple for artists performing live music in Irish pubs. It is often considered to be a drinking song rather than a temperance song. For many people, the Wild Rover is the stereotypical Irish drinking song. In the twentieth century the location of the song became a major concern due to its popularity, spurring continued debate amongst several European nations.
"The Wild Rover" is the most widely performed Irish song, although its exact origins are unknown.
The song tells the story of a young man who has been away from his hometown for many years. Returning to his former alehouse the landlady refuses him credit, until he presents the gold which he has gained while he has been away. He sings of how his days of roving are over and he intends to return to his home and settle down.
Other overview or significant versions
According to Professor T. M. Devine in his book The Scottish Nation 1700 - 2000 (Penguin, 2001) the song was written as a temperance song. The song is found printed in a book, The American Songster, printed in the USA by W.A. Leary in 1845, and spread from Scotland to America from the Temperance movement. There is another USA printed version in the "Forget-Me-Not Songster" (c 1850), published by Locke. An alternative history of the song is suggested by the fact that a collection of ballads, dated between 1813 and 1838, is held in the Bodleian Library. The printer, Catnach, was based in the Seven Dials area of London. The Bodleian bundle contains "The Wild Rover". The Greig-Duncan collection contains no less than six versions of the song. It was compiled by Gavin Greig 1848–1917.
The song is number 1173 in the Roud Folk Song Index, which lists 200 versions, many of which are broadsides, in chapbooks or song collections. About 50 have been collected from traditional singers. Of these, 26 were collected in England, 12 in Scotland, 3 in Ireland, 5 in Australia, 4 in Canada and 2 in the USA. (These figures may reflect collecting effort and collectors' taste rather than the distribution of singers who knew the song).
Raymond Daly and Derek Warfield of The Wolfe Tones describe how the fans of Celtic Football Club in Scotland  sing The Wild Rover at away matches. The chorus is well known throughout most Irish, Irish-American and British cultures, even among people who have no knowledge of the rest of the song.
As with Celtic Football Club, the chorus is sung by football fans throughout England, usually with the words adapted to suit the team in question.
Many popular singers and bands have covered the song, including:
- Allison Crowe on Newfoundland Vinyl II in 2014
- André Rieu
- Andy Irvine
- Andy Stewart
- Burl Ives
- Brobdingnagian Bards
- Celtic Thunder in 2018
- Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on Recorded Live in Ireland in 1965
- The Corries
- Cruachan on The Morrigan's Call (2006)
- Culann's Hounds, on One for the Road in 2008
- Dropkick Murphys
- The Dubliners on The Dubliners in 1964
- Finsterforst on #YØLØ (2016)
- Foster and Allen
- Four to the Bar, on Craic on the Road
- Gebroeders Grimm: Ammenooitneenooitnie (Dutch)
- Harry Hibbs
- The High Kings
- The Idlers on Ten Thousand Miles Away and others
- The Irish Rovers
- Klaus & Klaus, a single titled An der Nordseeküste (1985)
- Johnny Logan on Johnny Logan and Friends
- The Mahones
- Marc Gunn
- Martin Toal - UK tenor featured on his albums Cockles Mussels & Arias (2009) and Passione (2015)
- Mudmen on their album "Another Day" released in 2010. The Mudmen feature bagpipers Rob and Sandy Campbell who perform on the Hockey Night In Canada theme song on CBC television.
- Off Kilter
- Orthodox Celts on their debut album in 1994
- The Pogues, on the 2004 remaster of their debut album, Red Roses For Me
- Rolf Harris
- The Seekers on their 1963 album, Introducing the Seekers
- Soldat Louis
- Stiff Little Fingers on their live album which was later repackaged as the third disc of their Anthology
- Týr on their 2003 album Eric the Red
- Wolfe Tones
- Woods Tea Company
- "Wild Rover". Irish Music Forever. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
- "Whisky's awa'". Ias.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads". Bodley24.bodley.ox.ac.uk. 1997-11-12. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Search".
- Celtic and Ireland in Song and Story, pub Studio Print, 2008 pp361
- "FINSTERFORST - #YØLØ / CD".