Skip to content

‘Absolutely wonderful’: Victoria Irish Rovers co-founder celebrates nomination

Popular Irish-Canadian band rings in 60 years of uplifting spirits with a tour, award nomination
George Millar and Ian Millar, lead singers of The Irish Rovers. George, an Irish Rover all his life, wrote the song, “Hey Boys Sing Us A Song” as a response to the Covid years, and includes the refrain “We all need some happiness back in our lives!” The song is nominated Canadian Folk Music Awards, SINGLE OF THE YEAR. (Hamish Burgess)

The Irish Rovers are nominated for Song of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA) for their hit Hey Boys Sing Us A Song from their 2022 album No End in Sight.

“It’s absolutely wonderful. I’m oddly surprised when things like this happen. I was thinking about this the other day how lucky I am to not be a judge because how do you pick the best song out of a bunch of really good songs? So the fact that you’re nominated, I think that’s the prize right there,” George Millar said.

Millar, one of the founding and staying members in the band’s 60-year career, is based in Victoria B.C. and wrote most of their latest album in his home during the pandemic.

Hey Boys Sing us a Song is an Irish folk rock tune with belting lyrics like “we all need some happiness back in our life” – inspired by frustrations during the pandemic.

The song came about when Millar was on a plane leaving the London Heathrow Airport on a trip to visit family in Ireland, Millar said. Millar was feeling the effects of the pandemic while noticing the empty airport.

Once released, the song took off, resonating with people around the globe. Millar believed the feel-good nature of the song had an uplifting effect that people needed at the time.

“Maybe it was a song that just sort of hit people in the right spot. Everyone was depressed and lonely coming out of the pandemic,” Millar said.

“It’s just a healing process when you hear music. The Irish have been using this process for centuries getting through bad times - which they’ve had an awful lot of - their humour and their music has kept them alive all these years and it’s what they do. That’s why you always hear these stories about a wild party at a wake … Music lifts our spirits and when someone passes away, yes, you get together and you have a little drop of the pure as we call it and you end up singing and playing and the banjos come out and the fiddles … it’s age-old and believe me it’s as good as any tonic in the world.”

The Irish Rovers at Irish Times in Victoria, where they filmed the music video for Hey Boys Sing Us A Song. (Jennifer Fahrni)

The band’s musical tonic has been soaked in by listening ears of people all around the world. The music video, which was filmed in Irish Times in Victoria with friends and tourists as extras, has over 80K views on YouTube and comments like this fan:

“I’m young and from Brazil but in a year I’m listening to The Irish Rovers, you were with me in the moments of sadness and happiness I could only thank you, I will listen to you for the rest of my life.”

The Irish Rovers, which consists of members from Victoria (Millar), Ireland, Montreal and the U.S., have been nominated for awards before, including a Grammy for Best Folk Performance for The Unicorn.

“I say, you know, the only secret we have is that there’s a couple of things: we like each other, we respect the music we’re doing, and … we enjoy what we’re doing,” Millar said.

The band is currently on tour and will be in Calgary the night of the CFMA awards ceremony, which takes place in Vancouver on April 1. But, they will be ending their tour with a show in Victoria at McPherson Playhouse on April 14, and celebrating either way.

“No matter what happens I’m sure after the show we’ll probably enjoy a nice little pint of Guinness and we’ll salute whoever comes out on top, whether it’s us or whether its the next person, it doesn’t matter to us and we will have a little drink and think it’s still nice to be thought of,” Millar said.

He adds he wants to thank the band’s fans, some of whom have supported them throughout their entire 60 year career.

“As I say on stage, without those fans, the Irish Rovers would have had to find a real job,” Millar said.

“You always hear bands say we have the best fans in the world, well our fans are absolutely second to none. They’ve supported us for almost sixty years now. My goodness, it’s just an amazing run we’ve had. That little unicorn took us for a ride on its back for a lot of years. We’re extremely happy and grateful to everybody.”

READ MORE: Victoria producer, musicians up for awards at Canadian Folk Music Awards

Do you have a story tip? Email:

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

The Irish Rovers celebrating the filming of their music video for Hey Boys Sing Us A Song at Irish Times in Victoria. (Jennifer Fahrni)

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
Read more