The Shannon Rovers are a pipe band based in Chicago, Illinois. The band plays traditional Irish music almost exclusively. Rovers were first organized in 1926 by Tommie Ryan and a group of Irishmen, most of whom emigrated from Ireland in the 1920s, an historical period in Ireland. They arrived in the United States in time to experience the Great Depression, as reflected in the minutes of a meeting held in 1930, which states that “the Shannon Rovers Club was organized for the promotion of Irish music and to help members who are in distress to run dances and social affairs to finance these objectives”.
When the Shannon Rovers were first organized, they went by the name of the Shannon Rovers Fife and Drum Corps. In 1926, they first stepped off to lead a great parade at the newly opened Gaelic Park on 47th street. For the first six years, their fife and drum music was heard at every Irish gathering in the city. They attracted new members and became one of the most popular marching bands in the Midwest. In 1932, the band switched to bagpipes, which are referred to in Ireland as the war pipes. Since its founding, the Shannon Rovers have performed in thousands of local, national and international events. One of the Shannon Rovers’ traditions has been leading Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Beginning with the crowning of the St. Patrick’s Day Queen in February through the month of March, the Rovers play more than 125 events.
One of the more emotional Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade was a memorial, in 2002, to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. On March 17, 2009, six bagpipers and three drummers from the Shannon Rovers were invited to play at the White House for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Today, the band is made up of seventy plus pipers, drummers and color guard. In November of 2015, the band was requested to play at the funeral and burial of the Irish actress Maureen O’Hara. Fifty members of the band traveled to Washington, D.C. for the burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band performs on Sunday, July 10 at 5:30pm.