The World Rovers

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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Next week The Moodie Report launches The World Rovers, a book dedicated to the extraordinary story of the Irish in duty free – from Dr Brendan O’Regan who started it all in Shannon Airport, Ireland in 1947 to Colm McLoughlin, John Sutcliffe and many other keepers of the flame today.

The book celebrates that influence and tells many of the great personal and corporate stories that have happened over the past 60 years. The title ‘The World Rovers’ is of course inspired by the traditional Irish folk song ‘The Wild Rover’.

What if, we wondered, a latter day Irish song writer put the tale of the Irish in duty free into words and song? We thought it may come out something like this….

The World Rovers (O’Regan’s legacy)

[To the tune of ‘The Wild Rover’ – Traditional]

Well they’ve been the world rovers for manys the year
And they’ve made lots of money from whiskey and beer
They keep on expanding and building great stores
Those great pioneers of a great Irish cause

Chorus: And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

So gather you round boys while I sing the tale
Of the great Irish effort in travel retail
McLoughlin, Maloney, Sutcliffe and more
O’Regan and Skelly – those great names of yore

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

It started in Shannon with modest intent
A little kiosk saw the first money spent
Brendan O’Regan and young Kitty Downes
The great pioneers from a great Irish town

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Then came Chuck Feeney, a legend no less
His mother was Irish, he built DFS
He made many millions out of duty free stores
But gave it away to the peace-loving cause

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Then in the 80s in the great Middle East
The Irish created a new shopping feast
A man called McLoughlin he built it with glee
And soon it was famous – Dubai Duty Free

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Later that decade in the age of Glasnost
The Irish built Moscow at very great cost
The land of the Kremlin, the Bolshoi and more
Now gave the world a great duty free store

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

With warm hearts and spirit and plenty of banter
Out to the world came bold Aer Rianta
The men and the women all answered the call
From Kiev to Thailand to old Montreal

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Out in Bahrain a great force it was born
As Sutcliffe’s boys took the region by storm
From Muscat to Doha, Beirut to Bahrain
The ARI men were the industry’s gain

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

So they’ll stay the world rovers for many more years
And they’ll keep selling perfume, whiskies and beers
They’ll never stop working and they’ll never fail
So here’s to the Irish in travel retail

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

Well they built a great business and they built it with pride
Their impact was massive, and it was worldwide
They are the soul of the words ‘duty free’
So let us salute Brend-an’s legacy

Chorus: [And it’s hay, ho, forever – a great tale of folklore
Here come the Irish, to a duty free store]

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  • Dear Martin and Dermit and the Team,

    Congratulations on the publication of The World Rovers. I received an advance copy at the Forum in Dubai in March but only had the chance to get into it recently.

    I thought that I knew a lot about the history of duty free after all of these years but I was amazed at what I learned even about good friends that were featured in the publication and what they were able to achieve in such a short period of time.

    For supplier companies that are in (or want to be) the travel retail channel it should be “required reading” for all of their new recruits.

    Good work.

    Cheers,

    Patrick Nilson
    Haleybrooke International