The Irish Rover

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"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 over time.


The song describes a gigantic ship with "twenty-three masts" (versions by The Dubliners and The Pogues claim twenty-seven), 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 culminates in a disastrous end, after the ship suffers a measles outbreak, killing all but the narrator and the captain's dog. The ship then strikes a rock, turning "nine times around" and sinking. The captain's dog drowns in the incident, and the narrator is the only survivor, "the last of the Irish Rover," leaving no one else 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 single)

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

Cultural impact


"The Irish Rover" has been recorded many times including:

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  1. James Prescott (3 February 2014). "James Prescott - Folk Song Index In - Je". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  2. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Irish Rover". Irish Singles Chart.
  3. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  4. "The Pogues & the Dubliners – The Irish Rover". Top 40 Singles.
  5. The First of the Irish Rovers
  6. The Irish Rovers' Gems