The Irish Rovers Band

The Irish Rovers Band

The Irish Rovers are golden

The Irish Rovers bring their 50th Anniversary Tour and A Farewell To Rovin’ to Vernon March 9.

A legendary band is making its way to the North Okanagan.

The Irish Rovers bring their 50th Anniversary Tour and A Farewell To Rovin’ to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre March 9.

“The Irish Rovers, an iconic Celtic super-band based in Canada, have roved freely around the world for half-a-century and sold millions of recordings with their more than 40 albums, gaining countless converts to Irish music through the power of their foot-stomping, intoxicating songs, spirited humor and jubilant showmanship,” said Owen McNally, a music writer.

As ecstatic evangelists of Celtic music, the Rovers, despite the inevitability of retirements and mortality, have zealously spread the word about Irish folk music, and will return again to Ireland in May to film their final DVD/television special.

“We’re taking over Lismore Castle for a few days and inviting some friends from the area,” said George Millar, a band member.

“Half of us live there anyway so it’s not that difficult. It will just be a big party with lots of music – a kind of pub session that lasts four days. In the old days, we went over often to film for the television show. Tommy (Makem) and Liam (Clancy) would come out and we’d have a grand time. Of course, things have changed now. We’ve lost many of our old friends, but thank heavens in most cases the young ones are carrying on the tradition.”

This St. Patrick’s Day, the band will be filming its concert live and from the venue near Millar’s home in Western Canada.

The upbeat Irish-Canadian troubadours have celebrated everything in song from whiskey, women and doomed heroes to drunken sailors and doomed ships, especially famously sunken ones like the ill-fated sailing ship the Rover, the inspiration for the band’s name, and the Titanic, which was largely built by Irish workers in Belfast. And, of course, there’s the band’s virtually mandatory nightly reprise of its mega-hit signature song, The Unicorn.

At a Rovers concert you’ll hear both Scots and Irish music.

Original Rover Wilcil McDowell belonged to an association called the Antrim and Derry Fiddlers.

“It was well known for playing a wide variety of both Irish and Scottish tunes. Before joining the Irish Rovers, I played my accordion at concerts throughout Scotland and I also had a ceili band (Donegore Ceili Band) which played a combination of Irish and Scottish music, as well as the honour of sharing the bill with someone I greatly admired, the legendary Jimmy Shand and his Band,” he said.

“Some of the Scottish tunes and songs we learned when we were younger still feature in the Irish Rovers performances today.”

The Irish Rovers will be at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre March 9 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets go to or call 549-SHOW (7469).