Irish Rover – surreal, playful and risque
The lyrics to the Irish Rover tell the story of a wondrous ship which sets sail from Cork to transport its huge, improbable cargo to New York.
It has a crew of colourful characters including Slugger O’Toole and Johnny McGurk who was scared stiff of work.
The lyrics are surreal at times, always playful and sometimes risqué – especially by nineteenth century standards which is when the song first appeared.
The Irish Rover’s huge size can’t prevent it sinking, however. The crew is lost, even the dog drowns and only the singer survives.
Irish Rover lyrics and chords
On theCFourth of July 180F6We setCsail from theAmsweet cove ofGCork.We wereCsailing away with a cargo ofFbricksFor theCgrand CityGHall in NewCYork.‘Twas aCwonderful craft, she wasGrigged for and aft,And oh,Chow the wild windGdroveher.She stoodCseveral blasts, she had twenty-sevenFmastsAnd theyCcalled her the IrishGRovCer.
We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags,We had two million barrels of stone,We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,We had four million barrels of bones.We had five million hogs, and six million dogs,Seven million barrels of porterWe had eight million bails of old nanny-goats’ tailsIn the hold of the Irish Rover.
There was awl Mickey Coote who played hard on his fluteWhen the ladies lined up for a set.He was tootlin’ with skill for each sparkling quadrille,Though the dancers were fluther’d and bet.With his smart witty talk he was cock of the walkAnd he rolled the dames under and over.They all knew at a glance when he took up his stanceThat he sailed in the Irish Rover.
There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,There was Hogan from County TyroneThere was Johnny McGurk who was scared stiff of workAnd a man from Westmeath called Malone.There was Slugger O’Toole who was drunk as a ruleAnd Fighting Bill Treacy from DoverAnd your man, Mike McCann from the banks of the BannWas the skipper on the Irish Rover.
For a sailor it’s a bother of life,It’s so lonesome by night and by dayWhen he longs for the shore and a charming young whoreWho will melt all his troubles away.All the noise and the rout swillin’ poitin and stout,For him soon is done and overOf the love of a maid he is never afraid,That ould salt from the Irish Rover.
We had sailed seven years when the mizzens broke outAnd the ship lost it’s way in the fogAnd that whale of a crew was reduced down to two,Just meself and the Captain’s old dog.Then the ship struck a rock, Oh Lord! what a shock,The bulkhead was turned right over.Turned nine times around and the poor old dog was drowned,I’m the last of the Irish Rover.