Appalachia Music

Star Of The County Down

Star of the county down

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!


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  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    March 17, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks Tipper and a Chitter!…..And a fine verse and song it is!…..Shared it to Facebook.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 18, 2014 at 7:56 am

    What happened to my comments…??
    It wasn’t such a long one this time….LOl
    I notice several that are usually comment aren’t on here…
    I just wondered if there is a problem with the “thingy” that runs the “what-cha-ma-call-it” that is causing the “flim-faddle” not to get the comments? I have learned to watch for the notice that it will be saved and posted…so I know it is “flying away” to the holding place?
    I wonder if like “the plane” it disappeared completely?
    Or could it be a trick by the leprechaun hisownself?
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I wore green today so I didn’t get pinched but only one person challenged me. She had on green but I still asked her if she was Irish. She told me she was, but her name is Akasone Phongmathong. Reckon that’s Irish? Her friend Song Phantha said he was Irish too but I still think he is from Guatemala.
    By the way, that youngin of yourn is now my favorite fiddler in the whole wide world. I swore I was going to try keep up with her but that has become exponentially more difficult.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    That’s one I’ve heard many a time, probably most recently by Van Morrison. I don’t recall most of the words, though, and it was interesting to read it through. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon with no romance at this point, but that last verse made everything before it sound like an excuse to avoid the ploughing! 😉

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I liked the Poem. On Youtube, there is
    an Irish woman who sings and sounds just
    like Patsy Cline. Her name is Mary Duff
    and one song she sings is “Beautiful
    Meath”. She does great! I have lots of
    her songs “Bookmarked” so I can listen
    to them often…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” to all!
    I wonder if the poor fellow managed to “pull the wool over the sweet Rosie’s eyes” and win her as his bride?
    I know he was trying to make her think he was something more special to her liking! Dressing in his Sunday suit and leaving his horse unyolked and plow to rust, the “smoking” potato farmer goes to the fair at County Down to see her. All “lovesick” after she moves into his heart unknownst, of course to her!
    He thinks he can “woo” her by making “sheeps eyes” (amourous looks) and not smoking, he tries to deluder (ing) her into thoughts that he will be the one for her and win her over!
    Loved the music and the wonderful Irish poem…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    This is a good post for St Patrick Day. a lot of ballads was brought across with the Irish lads and Lassies. I know the girls will learn this and sing it for us soon.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    March 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I’ve always loved that tune! It tends to make something rise up from my genes. Also love Wild Mountain Thyme. Wish the girls would play and sing it for us sometimes. Hope everyone is wearing green today.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Top O the morning to ye! Loved the words and the music. A good way to start the day with a bit if the Irish being played. Well done lass, Happy St. Paddy’s Day!!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    March 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Certainly just a perfect song for today. Chitter – well done!

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    March 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for a great St. Patrick’s Day present! Star of County Down has been my all time favorite for many years. I had it on a cassette tape once that I wore out in the player of my truck. Marolyn and I waltzed to it in the den this morning as Chitter played. Pleasant memories…

  • Reply
    March 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Great job Chitter! Really love to hear you play. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the Blind Pig Gang and all of the readers!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Such a great song to honor the Irish today! Wearin’ green today makes me feel richer and blessed by celebrating St. Patrick’s Day! Great playing and so enjoyable.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 17, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Love the song, and so fitting for St Patrick’s Day.

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