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The Irish Rover

The Irish Rover is a traditional Irish Folk song which tells the story of a magnificent mythical sailing ship travelling from Cork to New York. The narrator is the ships only surviving crew member, and being the only survivor means that everything he tells is so over the top and impossible but that there is no one to contradict him.

The song describes a gigantic ship with "twenty-seven masts", even the Cutty Sark only had 3! 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 Irish RoverWatch the video

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Original Artists: Dubliners and Pogues
Genres: Acoustic, Traditional Hits
Artists: Pudenski Brothers
Avatar: pudenski-brothers-avatar

The Irish Rover is a traditional Irish Folk song which tells the story of a magnificent mythical sailing ship travelling from Cork to New York. The narrator is the ships only surviving crew member, and being the only survivor means that everything he tells is so over the top and impossible but that there is no one to contradict him.

The song describes a gigantic ship with "twenty-seven masts", even the Cutty Sark only had 3! 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 lyrics vary from rendition to rendition being passed down generation to generation and area to area, attributed to songwriter/arranger J.M Crofts, The seven-year voyage comes to a disastrous end when the ship sinks. The narrator becomes the only survivor, "the last of the Irish Rover", leaving no one else alive to contradict the tale.

The most impressive part of the story is certainly the cargo which was aboard this great vessel, "five million hogs and six million dogs" certainly puts Noah's Ark too shame.

History has also added to some of the confusion, the lyrics below refer as do most popular versions of the song to measles breaking out, which leads to the sinking of the great ship. This is based on misheard lyrics which refers to "the mizzens breaking out". The mizzen was a third mask, a smaller mast placed just behind the main mast of early nineteenth-century sailing ships. The mizzen breaking may well have led to the ship losing its way in the fog.

A tall tale pub boast about a great ship whose described size and cargo are way beyond anything imaginable...but you have to believe the teller because he's the only member of the crew left alive. It was in 1987 when The Dubliners with The Pogues and taken from The Dubliners's album 25 Years Celebration, released The Irish Rover as a single reaching number 8 in the UK Singles Chart.