Author Topic: Add: The Star of County Down

Jon Freeman

Posted - 13 Jul 05 - 01:27 pm

Near to Banbridge town in the County Down
On a 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,
Such a coaxin' elf, I'd to shake myself,
To make sure I was really 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 scratch'd my head
And I gazed with a feelin' quare,
There 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,
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,
So I'll dress in my Sunday clothes,
And I'll try sheep's eyes and deludtherin lies,
On the heart of the nut-brown Rose,
No pipe I'll smoke, no horse I'll yoke,
Tho' my plough with rust turn brown.
Till a smiling bride by my own fireside,
Sits the star of the County Down.

Source: Singing Together, Summer 1974, BBC Publications

Identified as Irish.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 13 Jul 05 - 04:09 pm

Colm O'Lochlainn (Songwriters of Ireland in the English Tongue) states that The Star of the County Down was written by Cathal McGarvey (1866-1927). McGarvey was a native of Ramelton, Co Donegal, who lived most of his life in Dublin. He also wrote The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn. (Information from John Moulden).

McGarvey's song was first published in Herbert Hughes, Irish Country Songs IV, 1936. The writer is not named there; the song had presumably already been in circulation for some years.

The tune, of course, is considerably older, and has carried a great many songs over the years, in one form or another, throughout Britain and Ireland. Highlights of its career include Dives and Lazarus (the usual name used for the tune-family), Maria Marten and Gilderoy; from this last it was thought to be originally Scottish, but Claude M Simpson (The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 109-110 and 254, identifies a 17th century English tune, The Clean Contrary Way, as seeming "harmonically to be the ancestor of this entire tune cluster".

masato sakurai

Posted - 13 Jul 05 - 04:41 pm

Also the hymn tune Kingsfold.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 14 Jul 05 - 01:11 am

Indeed yes. So called because Ralph Vaughan Williams got the tune from Mr Booker of Kingsfold in Sussex (23 December 1904) who sang Maria Marten to it.

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