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Another of Ireland’s most popular folk-songs, “Star of the County Down” was written by Cathal McGarvey, a humorist, storyteller, songwriter, and publican from Ramelton, County Donegal, and founder of the famous “An Stad” – guesthouse, restaurant, and meeting place for nationalists and Irish language enthusiasts. The song is the quintessential love-at-first-sight (“infatuation”) story where the lovely Rose McCann happens by the singer of the song – who, in the first verse, is so profoundly smitten by her beauty that, by the last verse they are married. Clearly the singer of the song is... well... virtually EVERY guy. The melody is a very old one in traditional music, and shows up in “Dives and Lazarus”, “My Love Nell”, and “Blow the Candle Out”…

Lyrics

Near to 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 neat from her two bare feet to the sheen of her nut-brown hair. Such a coaxing elf, sure I shook myself to make sure I was standing there. From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay, and from Galway to Dublin town, no maid I’ve seen like the sweet colleen that I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped, sure I shook my head, and I gazed with a feeling rare. And I said, said I, to a passer-by, Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair? He smiled at me, and with pride said he, That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown, young Rose McCann from the banks of the Bann, she’s the Star of the County Down. From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay…

I’ve traveled a bit, but ne’er was hit since my roving career began. But fair and square I surrendered there to the charms of Rose McCann. With a heart to let, no tenant yet have I met with in shawl or gown. But in she went, and I asked no rent from the Star of the County Down. From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay…

At the harvest-fair she’ll surely be there, so I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes with my hat cocked right and my shoes shone bright for a smile from my nut-brown Rose. No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke, though my plow has rusted brown ’til a smiling bride by my own fireside sits the Star of the County Down. From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay…