Star of the County Down — Irish History in Song
Among pub standards, Star of the County Down is one of the most lyrically poetic, filled with the intraline rhyme and accentual verse often found in Irish poetry. Appropriately, there are literally dozens of beautiful renditions of this song out there—see below for two I found on YouTube. I think my favorite recording of it is Van Morrison & The Chieftans, on their joint album Irish Heartbeat.
Admittedly, there’s nothing of explicit historical interest in this one, but it’s just so good! I couldn’t resist.
Near Banbridge Town in the County Down One morning last July Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen And she smiled as she passed me by She looked so sweet from her two bare feet To the sheen of her nut-brown hair Such a coaxing elf, sure I shook myself For to see I was really there 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, sure I scratched my head And I looked with a feeling rare So I said, said I, to a passer-by “Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair?” Sure he smiled at me, and he says, says he “That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann She’s the star of the County Down” At the harvest fair she’ll be surely there And I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes With my shoes shone bright and my hat cocked right For a smile from my nut-brown Rose No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke ’Til my plow’s a rust-covered brown ’Til a smiling bride by my own fireside Sits the star of the County Down