image

North America

the Irish Rovers

The Irish Rovers: The Unicorn

image image
  image image
image image
  • The Unicorn
    • 1967 - Decca DL7-4951 LP (USA)
    • 1968 - MCA MUP 310 LP (UK)
    • 1968 - Festival DL-32 816 LP — Australian release
    • 1969 - Coral COPS 1054 LP — German release
    • 1973 - MCA Records MCA-15 LP
    • 1991 - MCA MCAD-15 CD
  • Side One
    1. The Unicorn
    2. Bonnie Kellswater
    3. Orange and the Green
    4. Hiring Fair
    5. Bridget Flynn
    6. Come In
  • Side Two
    1. Goodbye Mrs. Durkin
    2. Pat of Mullingar
    3. Wind That Shakes the Corn
    4. First Love in Life
    5. Black Velvet Band

  • The Irish Rovers
    • Will Millar
    • George Millar
    • Jimmy Ferguson
    • Joe Millar
  • Notes:
    • Both the UK and Australian releases of The Unicorn are the same as the original (US) in every way, expect for the (above) covers.
    • The German release has (the above different/strange cover) and edited sleeve notes.

Sleeve Notes

Those irrepressible Irish Rovers are back for an encore. Needless to say, the welcome mat is out!

These four charming young men from the auld sod have been captivitating audiences young and old across the land for some time now with their great musical talent and exuberance, and recent appearances at the Ice House in Pasadena and Glendale, California, and with the Smothers Brothers television show have earned them new laurels.

The trail of triumph blazed by the Irish Rovers originated in Canada, where the four boys from the North of Ireland first joined forces. George and Will Millar are brothers, Joe Millar is their cousin, and Jim Ferguson is their very close friend. From Canada they traveled down the coast to California and into a pub called Dinucci's, run by a couple of Irishmen named Murphy and Moran. Jerry Murphy and Peter Moran fed and lodged the Rovers and the Rovers, in turn, entertained the customers from miles around. Delighted audiences passed the good word along and the Rovers eventually found themselves at the Purple Onion in San Francisco. The ensuing success of their many public appearances and the enthusiastic reception of their first recording, THE BEST OF THE IRISH ROVERS, is now scrapbook history.

THE UNICORN is another choice collection of Irish ballads and folk songs, sung with the warmth, tenderness and high spirits that have become the trademark of the Irish Rovers. Blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of enchanting Irish music and the unique ability to relate to any audience in any surrounding, they are destined for more than ordinary fame. If there are any "quare" souls left who have not yet succumbed to the magic of this remarkable foursome, THE UNICORN is sure to win them over.

The particular combination of wit and wistfulness that is so characteristic of the Irish people is nowhere more evident than in Will Millar's own description of the Rovers' boyhood in Ireland, in his comments on the songs in this album. His simple, eloquent words that follow speak for themselves…

Judith Tane


It was short, tweedy trousers in those days, and knee socks forever falling over boot-tops. Three of us went every year to the seaside at Portrush. We sang in variety shows in the town hall—always drizzly, singing summers. We lived in a tin-roofed summer bungalow that rattled away at the coastal weather, drops of wetness splashing through the roof into an enamel chamberpot or dancing with a hiss on the red-hot lid of the range.

Some of the crowd came in to hear us, the rest came to get out of the wet. Trailing mud and water, they wandered into the town hall. They clapped and booed, roared and sang, cheered and sucked pink peppermint rock gritty with sand.

One of us didn't brave this variety-concert singing. That well-scrubbed chubby face sang angelically in the choir of St. Colom's Church in Belfast. From their pew, his mother and aunts in silk-headscarfed pride watched him with adoring eyes. Behind his missal he puffed wee cigarette butts, and he tormented the unfortunate in front of him. And he went on the sly to a Methodist Sunday school which had better bus tours and picnics than its Catholic counterpart.

These long-ago summers mingle together in a mist of rainy grey skies, with bursts of sunshine changing tin roofs to steam. They drift into the pounding surf on bleak, dark rocks and float aloft with wheeling, calling sea birds, swirling about bobbing fishing luggers. And the sounds of our boy-soprano voices pipe their way out of the lighted town hall and down the bicycle-wobbling street of the white-washed town.

Sometimes in California or Boston or places in between, far removed from a drafty town hall, in night clubs or concert halls, or in front of a recording microphone, those summers will creep into focus again. And there we are doing our song and dance to a sniffing crowd in damp-smelling clothes, and they're yelling, "Ye're quare boys-give us another'n'"

Come In - Did you hear the one about the Irishman who fainted at party? Well, they brought him to - then they brought him two more, and he was all right! Come in and have a couple yourself.

Goodbye Mrs. Durkin - Why do the Irish leave the country? Why do the Irish emigrate? They're all following the whiskey that's exported, crate by crate. They also gave up digging spuds in Ireland to dig for lumps of gold in California.

Bonnie Kellswater - Kells is a tiny village near Ballymena. You know, there must be at least one song just as sweet about every village in Ireland.

Hiring Fair - They call it the employment bureau (or "brew") nowadays, but it used to be run like a fair. The only trouble was that, in order to get a job, you had to sign up for a stretch. Then God help you!

The Unicorn - We all live near the Glens of Antrim where the little people abound, and King Brian himself, ruler of the leprechauns, goes riding of a moonlit evening on a lovely wee white horse with a silver horn on its head. But unicorns are not as plentiful as they used to be, and here is a song that explains why.

Black Velvet Band - Oh, but it's terrible what can happen to an innocent young man when he "discovers" the girls of Belfast.

Bridget Flynn - "I'd sing like a thrush in a hawthorn bush, if she'd only have an eye for me." Kind of a sad wee song with a happy melody.

The Wind That Shakes The Corn - In 1798, men from all over Ireland rose against the forces of the Crown. The young man in this song joined their ranks when his sweetheart was shot by a British bullet.

The First Love In Life - There are love songs to girls, to nature, to love itself, but here is the sweetest of all love songs to the water of life - to whiskey.

Pat Of Mullingar - This fellow was Ireland's answer to Robin Hood, Jesse James, and Dick Turpin - all put together.

Will Millar