Near to Banbridge Town, in the County Down
One morning in July,
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen,
And she smiled as she passed me by;
Oh, she looked so neat from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair,
Sure the coaxing elf, I’d to shake myself
To make sure I was standing there
Oh, from Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay,
And from Galway to Dublin town,
No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen
That I met in the County Down.
As she onward sped I shook my head
And I gazed with a feeling quare,
And I said, says I, to a passer-by,
“Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair?”
Oh, he smiled at me, and with pride says he,
“That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown,
She’s young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,
She’s the Star of the County Down.”
She’d a soft brown eye, And a look so sly
And a smile like the rose in June;
And you hung on each note from her lily-white throat
As she lilted an Irish tune.
At the pattern dance you were held in a trance,
As she tripped through a reel or jig;
And when her eyes she’d roll, she’d coax, upon my soul,
A spud from a hungry pig.
I’ve travelled a bit, but never was hit
Since my roving career began;
But fair and square I surrendered there*
To the charms of young Rose McCann.
With a heart to let and no tenant yet
Did I meet with in shawl or gown,
But in she went and I asked no rent
From the Star of the County Down.
At the crossroads fair I’ll be surely there
And I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes,
And I’ll try sheep’s eyes, and deludhering lies
On the heart of the nut-brown Rose.
No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke,
Though with rust my plow turns brown,
Till a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the Star of the County Down.
~Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927)
Chitter learned the fiddle tune Star Of The County Down at the John C. Campbell Folk School. She didn’t know it had words until I found them on the web.
No one knows how old the actual tune is-and the tune has been used for various songs over the years. At some point McGarvey put the words above to the tune.
Maybe I can get the girls to learn the words. Either way it’s the perfect tune for today.
Happy Saint Patrick’s day!