Introduced by Brian Peters

The Wild Rover is one of the best-known traditional songs, but it’s not the Irish drinking anthem many people assume. It began life in the 1670s as an English broadside ballad about a hard-drinking ‘Bad Husband’ who saw the error of his ways, but was edited down over the centuries, rebranded as ‘The Wild Rover,’ and a chorus added. It was popular in England, Scotland and Australia, and the version made famous by the Dubliners contains elements from all of those places. Brian’s version was collected in Hampshire, England, in 1906, and retains the older chorus and temperance message – a similar version was written down in the same area as early as 1820.

Watch/listen to Brian perform The Wild Rover:

The Wild Rover sheet musicLyrics

I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the long year
Spent all my money on fine girls and strong beer
But for my part I will lay down my money in store
And it’s never will I play the wild rover no more

Wild rover, wild rover, wild rover no more
And it’s never will I play the wild rover no more

I went in to an alehouse where I’d used to resort
The liquor was good, but my money ran short
I asked them to trust me, they answered me “Nay”
Such a customer as you we can get any day

So from out of my pocket I drew handfuls of gold
The landlady’s eyes opened wide to behold
“You’re welcome, kind sir, to our liquor of the best
What we told you before, it was only in jest”

“Oh no,” I replied, “that never can be
For I’ll see you all hang e’er you get one penny
For a man who’s got money, you’ve a welcome in store
But a man who’s got none will be turned from your door.”

Brian Peters is a singer from England who specializes in the traditional songs and music of his native land, and is also a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist. He’s developed projects on the Child Ballads and Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian collection, and is a regular visitor to the USA.