Star of the County Down
"Star of the County Down" is an Irish ballad set near Banbridge in County Down, in Northern Ireland. The words are by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) from Ramelton, County Donegal. The tune is similar to several other works, especially that of the English "Dives and Lazarus", also called "Kingsfold", well known from several popular hymns.
The melody was also used in an Irish folk song called "My Love Nell". The lyrics of "My Love Nell" tell the story of a young man who courts a girl but loses her when she emigrates to America. The only real similarity with "Star of the County Down" is that Nell too comes from County Down. This may have inspired McGarvey to place the heroine of his new song in Down as well. McGarvey was from Donegal.
"The Star of the County Down" uses a tight rhyme scheme. Each stanza is a double quatrain, and the first and third lines of each quatrain have an internal rhyme on the second and fourth feet: [aa]b[cc]b. The refrain is a single quatrain with the same rhyming pattern.
The song is sung from the point of view of a young man who chances to meet a charming lady by the name of Rose (or Rosie) McCann, referred to as the "star of the County Down". From a brief encounter the writer's infatuation grows until, by the end of the ballad, he imagines wedding the girl.
The song usually begins with the opening verse:
- O'Lochlainn, Colm (1967). Songwriters of Ireland in the English Tongue. Dublin: Three Candles Press.
- Folksongs&Ballads popular in Ireland, Volume 3, Loesberg,pp 72
- "Axon Ballads No.95 - My love Nell; Kitty Tyrrell; Rory of the hills". Retrieved 11 July 2016.
- Link to a free download of Slainte's version of the song (hosted by archive.org).
- A free sound recording of Droit's version
- "Star of the County Down" at MusicBrainz (information and list of recordings)