The Irish Rovers   •   Down By The Lagan Side

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  • Down By The Lagan Side
    • 2000 - Rovers Records 006 CD (CAN)
  • Tracklist
    1. Boys Of Belfast (G. Millar)
    2. Over The Ocean (G. Millar)
    3. Erin's Green Isle (G. Millar)
    4. Rambling And Roving (T. Sands)
    5. Jigs
    6. Back Home In Sweet Tralee (Words: G. Millar)
    7. Staten Island (J. McEvoy)
    8. St. Brendan's Fair Isle (J. Driftwood)
    9. Wild Slieve Gallen Brae
    10. The Crockery Ware
    11. The Rambler From Derry (G. Millar)
    12. Hornpipes & Reels
    13. The Roses Of Prince Charlie (R.G. Browne)
    14. Down By The Lagan Side (T. Sands)

  • The Irish Rovers
    • George Millar: Guitar & Vocals
    • Joe Millar: Harmonica & Vocals
    • Wilcil McDowell: Accordion
    • John Reynolds: Guitar & Vocals
    • Kevin McKeown: Drums, Bones & Bodhrán
    • Wallace Hood: Whistle, Mandolin, Citern, Banjo, Bouzouki & Bodhrán
    • Seán O'Driscoll: Mandolin, Banjo, Button-Key Accordion & Bodhrán
  • Guest Musicians
    • Amy Laing: Cello
    • Clinton Ryder: Stand-Up Bass
    • Todd Sacerty: Electric Bass
    • Patrick Davey: Uilleann Pipes, Flute & Whistle
    • Martin Dowling: Fiddle
    • Andrea Lewis: Fiddle pn "Rambler From Derry"
  • Credits
    • Produced by George Millar for Rover Records
    • Engineered by Rick Salt
    • Mixed by George Millar and Rick Salt
    • Recorded at Island Racific Studios - Nanaimo, B.C., Canada
    • Mastered By; Mark Franklin of Media Magic - Victoria, B.C.
    • Cover Photograph by Cameron Reid
    • Back Cover of Shaws Bridge Over The Lagan River
      • Courtesy Of The Northern Irish Tourist Board
    • Cover Design by Natasha Shim-Ping For Music Manufacturing Services
    • Layout by The Always Perky, Amy Millar
    • Patrick Davey & Martin Dowling were Recorded at Outlet Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland
      • Co-ordinated by Wilcil McDowell and Engineered by Jim McGirr

Sleeve Notes

Here's to the bards and the poets long may they write their ideals
And here's to the music makers who play the jigs and reels
For if there were no songs to sing that bring us all enjoyment
Then lads like us unfortunately would have to seek employment.

George Millar - Feb. 2000

Boys Of Belfast
(George Millar)

Well here we are in the year 2000 and The Irish Rovers are 36 years old and still going strong. To kick things off here's a song about the resiliency of Irishmen and in this particular case, the Boys of Belfast.

We're the boys of Belfast town,
Rantin' roarin' ramblin' round
We're Irishmen of high renown
That's the boys of Belfast

You will find us anywhere in the church or on the tear
Brave and bold there's none so rare as the Boys of Belfast


We can fight with sword or pen we'll never break we'll never bend
And if we fall we'll rise again for we're the boys of Belfast


When we're back on Paddy's shore the lassies will be sad no more
Tonight we'll make the rafters roar in the pubs of Belfast


Over The Ocean
(George Millar)

Anywhere you go in Ireland, North, South, East or West the welcome mat is always out—come on over and see for yourself—A good time is guaranteed for all!

Over the ocean in Paddy's green isle
There's music and laughter your heart to beguile
When fiddles and pipes do merrily play
There's singing and dancing and tearing away

Dow dowdely diddley-da-day
Rowdely dowdely tithery-I-ay
Fol-lol-lol- liddle-um diddley-da-day
Whack-fol-the diddle-dum toor-a-li-ay

Over the ocean in paddy's green isle
Céead Miía Fáilte they say with a smile
The north and the south will bid you hello
You haven't a care wherever you go

Over the ocean in paddy s green isle
Come into the pub and we'll stay for awhile
And listen to blarney an Irishman's charm
A couple of pints'll do us no harm

Repeat 1st verse

Erin's Green Isle
(George Millar)

Here's Joe to sing a wee song extolling the beauty and charms of Ireland.

I have wandered the pathways and bi-ways of Erin's green isle
Enthralled by her beauty encountered for mile after mile
From the port of Kinsale to the north coast of Antrim so wild
Where nature prevails and your heart it will soon be beguiled

When the mountains and glens are ablaze with the colours of spring
When the wee birds are singing their songs how the valleys do ring
While building their nests in the bushes of Hawthorne and broom
And the wild purple heather it covers the hillside in blooms

There are castles and towers reminders of Days that are gone
And you'll still hear the legends and stories and the music lives on
And when I'm far away no matter where I chance to roam
I will always think fondly on the green rolling hills of my home

Repeat 1st verse

Rambling And Roving
(Tommy. Sands)

Here's another new song from the pen of our friend Tommy Sands of Belfast. It has a nice easy chorus—so put down whatever you're doing, pour yourself a Wee drink and sing along—you'll feel Great!

I'm rambling and roving from village to town
In every country I'm rambling around
The sky is me roof and the earth is me floor
But don't be surprised if I knock on your door

And a roving I'll go, up with your glasses and rosin your bow
And a roving I'll go, never give up when you're feeling low

In a doss house in Dublin the landlady said
you can stay for the night if you make your own bed
No trouble says I sure I've done that before
says she there's the hammer and nails on the floor


In Paris I walked in a restaurant fine
Says I would you give me a bottle of wine
What year would you like the landlord did say
Ah says I my good man I would like it today


It's time to be going it's time to be gone
The high hills and valleys keep calling me on
But here's to your friendship and fire side bright
And here's to the whiskey we're drinking tonight


(Trad. Arr. Wilcil McDowell, except Charlie Hunter, composed by B. McLeod & Mozart Allen)

Put on your dancing shoes!—here's a set of Jigs that Wilcil has put together that'll soon have your toes a-tapping.

1. Maid on the Green
2. Charlie Hunter
3. Condon's Frolics
4. The Kesh Jig

Home In Sweet Tralee
(Words: George Millar)

Emigration has played a large part in Irish history from the potato blight in 1845 to the present day. Those early emigrants had little choice but to leave an impoverished land and seek a better life elsewhere. Although most would never return to Ireland, they never gave up their dream of going home one day.

Farewell to the green fields where I did roam
Likewise to the mountains and glens
To the lassie I love and my parents so dear
I never will see them again

Why did I leave my native home and cross the raging sea
No more I'll hear the wee birds sing back home in sweet Tralee

Through wind and rain and a rolling sea
We suffered each lonely mile
We thought we would never see land again
And I dreamed about Erin's green isle


We landed safely in New York boys
And they soon had us working away
Building the railways and bridges and dams
We were working twelve hours a day


Now if good fortune should shine on me that
I might have money in store
I'll go back to the green rolling hills of Tralee
And then I will ramble no more


Staten Island
(Johnny McEvoy)

They left from cork and Galway, from Antrim and from Clare
From the hills of Connemara, Dublin and Kildare
Poverty and hunger drove them from their native home
They sailed from Cobh and Belfast to cross the raging foam
Some survived the voyage but many died at sea
Dreaming of the green fields in their dear counterie
So a curse upon those landlords who took their farms away
And Ireland's sons and daughters sailed to north America
George Millar

We sailed our ship up the Hudson River
To the wild Atlantic, we said farewell
On Staten Island when we landed
There we had our tale to tell

We're the poor the huddled masses
We have crossed the lonely sea
Left the old world for the new world
Left the old ways to be free

We left our homes in '47
Turned our backs against the wind
From our ships of creaking timber
We bid farewell to a famished land


With heavy hearts we left behind us
Memories of better days
Old men talking children laughing
As we danced the night away


Still we hear their voices calling
On the wind we hear their sound
Friends and loved ones old and young ones
Lie beneath the famine mound


Now those years are far behind us
Now our spirits have grown strong
In this land that gave us freedom
And the will to carry on


St. Brendan's Fair Isle
(Jimmy Driftwood)

As you probably all know by now, St. Brendan the navigator discovered north America in The 6th century—long before Columbus was even thought of. Saint Brendan and his disciples made many epic and mystical voyages, as this song will tell you. We learnt this one from folklorist and musician Mick Maloney.

When I was a lad on the emerald isle
I heard many stories both lovely and wild
About the great dragons and monsters that be
That swallow the ships when they sail on the sea
Though I was an artist with canvas and paints
I sailed with St. Brendan and his jolly saints
We told the good people farewell for a while

We sailed for St. Brendan's Fair Isle, Fair Isle
We sailed for St. Brendan's Fair Isle

We'd been on the ocean for ninety-four days
When we came to a spot where the sea was ablaze
Those demons from Hades were dancing with glee
And burning the sailors alive on the sea
Then St. Brendan walked on the blistering waves
He threw all the demons right back to their caves
And all of the saints wore a heavenly smile


One night while the brethren were lying asleep
A great dragon came up from under the deep
He thundered and lightened and made a great din
He awakened St. Brendan and all of his men
The dragon came on with his mouth open wide
We threw in a cross and the great dragon died
We skinned him and cooked him and feasted awhile


At last we came unto that beautiful land
We all went ashore and we walked on the sand
We took our long bows and we killed a zebu
We roasted it up and had hot barbecue
And after awhile we were singing a song
We noticed the island was moving along
We ate and we drank and we rode in high style


Now Brendan said boys this is much to my wish
We ride on the back of the world's biggest fish
Hold fast to the rope that is pulling this ship
We'll need it some day if this fish takes a dip
We sailed every ocean we sailed every sea
We sailed every spot that a sailor could be
In forty-four day we sailed ten million miles


The Crockery Ware

Years ago in Ireland before indoor plumbing was introduced, the crockery ware or chamberpot as it was also known, was a very popular item especially on those dark rainy nights that seem to only occur in Ireland. In the north of Ireland we call it the "guzunder"—because it guzunder the bed! This is another song from Len Graham's collection.

A young man lived in Belfast town and he courted a girl called Sally Brown
A young man lived in Belfast town and he courted a girl called Sally Brown
He asked her for a favour bright that he might sleep with her all night

Whack fol the diddle-dum-a-die doe day
whack fol the diddle-dum-a-die doe day

Well this fair maid she gave consent and straight up to her room she went
Well this fair maid she gave consent and straight up to her room she went
And in the room there was a chair and under the chair was the crockery ware


The young man he got up in the night looking for his heart's delight
The young man he got up in the night looking for his heart's delight
His foot did slip I do declare and he tumbled into the crockery ware


Her mother she got up in the night and ran upstairs with the candle light
Her mother she got up in the night and ran upstairs with the candle light
Says she, "young man what do you there a-breaking all my crockery ware?"


They called for the police at the break of day to see what this young man would pay
They called for the police at the break of day to see what this young man would pay
He paid nine pounds for the crockery ware and nine pounds ten for the damned ould chair


Come all ye wild and rambling sparks that love to wander in the dark
Come all ye wild and rambling sparks that love to wander in the dark
Don't bang your shins against the chair or break the ould one's crockery ware


Wild Slieve Gallen Brae

We learnt this old ballad from the traditional singer Len Graham. His collection of Ulster songs called "it's of my rambles". Is filled with Northern Ireland gems. The young fellow in this song though broken-hearted, soon forgets about his woes when he is taken by the beauty of the countryside around co. Antrim. And a certain lassie he meets there.

Oh once I loved a damsel but alas she proved untrue
When I thought to climb yon mountain my thoughts of her to view
Now whether it was magic or enchantment led the way
Til at length I reached the summit of wild Slieve Gallen Brae

Twas there I rested wearied limbs and mused upon the past
But the beauty of the country side soon changed my thoughts at last
The hills of Co. Antrim and the waters of Lough Neagh
To me they shone like diamonds from wild Slieve Gallen Brae

I viewed the moss and heather along her rugged sides
And fields of golden barley where the timid rabbit hides
And down the silent valley where the Bann does wind its way
Through Portglenone and Moneyglass from wild Slieve Gallen Brae

And over in the heather beneath a hazel tree
I spied a lovely lassie there who came and sat by me
Says she I'm here lamenting a false young man today
And he's left me here to wander on wild Slieve Gallen Brae

Now love can make the heart to grieve and love can set it free
The lass I met upon the brae has captivated me
Providence was kind to me and I'll never forget the day
When first I saw her smiling face on wild Slieve Gallen Brae

The Rambler From Derry
(George Millar)

The happy-go-lucky life of the rover is a favourite theme in Irish folk songs. Perhaps it's the promise of open spaces, no boss to worry about no rent to pay. No taxes—doesn't sound too bad, does it?

I'm the rambler from derry lighthearted and merry
Around Paddy's island me way I do wend
Meself and me dog over moorland and bog
We know every path through the mountains and glens

Singing fol-de-rol laddie right toor-a-lie-addy
Air fol-la-lull derry dum toor-a-lie-ay
With me pack on me back down the road I will stray
For the rambler from Derry is ramblin' away

I was born a free man by the banks of the Bann
And the blood of the gypsy it runs through my veins
I've friends and relations all over this nation
Who offer me shelter from the wind and the rain


I rove at me leisure for sport and for pleasure
Through the warm summer sun or the cold winter snow
The sights are astounding with nature abounding
In Paddy's green island where the dear shamrock grows


I've colleens from Derry to Cork and Tipperary
From Dublin to Sljgo and wild Donegal
I squeeze them and tease them I love them and please them
When me rambles are over sure I'll marry them all


So lift up your glasses ye lads and fine lasses
To the travelling people wherever you be
May the road rise to meet you and old friends
To greet you and may all of your rambles be happy and free


Hornpipes & Reels
(Trad. Arr. Wilcil McDowell)

Wilcil and Wallace change the pace with two hornpipes, followed by a couple of rollicking reels.

1. The Galway Hornpipe
2. Dunphy's Hornpipe
3. The Reconciliation Reel
4. The Maid Behind The Bar

The Roses Of Prince Charlie
(R.G. Browne)

Here's a song of Scottish independence written by Ronnie Browne of the traditional Scots band, the Corries.

Come now gather now here where the flowers grow
White is the blossom as the snow on the ben
Hear now freedom's call we'll make a solemn vow
Now by the roses o' Prince Charlie

Fight again at Bannockburn your battle-axe tae wield
Fight wi' your grandsires on Flodden's bloody field
Fight at Culloden the bonnie prince tae shield
Fight by the roses o' prince Charlie

Spirits of the banished in far and distant lands
Carved out the new world wi' sweat, blood and hand
Return now in glory and on the silver sand
Fight by the roses o' Prince Charlie

Tak' your strength from the green fields that blanket peat and coal
Ships from the Clyde have a nation in their hold
The water of life some men need to make them bold
Black gold and fishes fra the sea, man


Down By The Lagan Side
(Tommy Sands)

This timely new song of hope for Belfast was written by Tommy Sands, one of Ireland's finest writers and entertainers.

Well I thought she was a vision that stopped me with her smile
Down by the river we walked along in style
She says you're welcome back again and won't you stay awhile
Down by the lagan side

And when we dance we'll dance together
When we cry we'll hold each other
And when we love we'll love forever
Down by the lagan side

I said who owns that music so full of joy and pain
That the pipers and the harpers and the lambeg drummers play
She said who owns the teardrops falling in the rain
Down by the lagan side

And do you not remember we once walked side by side
And the bells of Belfast city sang in harmony and pride
The past it has been taken but the future's yours and mine
Down by the lagan side

Joe Millar — Ballymena, N. Ireland
Wilcil McDowell
George Millar — Ballymena, N. Ireland
Kevin McKeown Antrim, N. Ireland
Wallace Hood — Belfast, N. Ireland
John Reynolds — Belfast, N. Ireland
Seán O'Driscoll — Cork, Ireland