I am completely an totally in love with this song! It is a traditional Irish ballad, how could I not love it?
The words are by Cathal McGarvey. I have heard several versions, Loreena Mckennitt, Orthodox Celts, and a few other people who I don’t remember. But I like Sarah Moore’s version best!! It is slower sweeter, and she tells it third person, instead of first. I prefer the third, because it makes it a little more story like to me. Sadly though Sarah moore, at least so far as I can tell, didn’t do the last verse. I cannot seem to find a version that uses all the verses, that I like. Anyway here are the lyrics.
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning in July
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed him by.
She looked so sweet from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair
Such a coaxing elf, he to shake himself
To make sure he was standing there.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid he’d seen like the sweet colleen
That he met in the County Down.
As she onward sped he shook his head
And he gazed with a feeling rare
And he said, says I, to a passerby
"Who's the maid with the nut-brown hair?"
He smiled at him, 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."
He’d travelled a bit, but never was hit
Since his roving career began
But fair and square he surrendered there
To the charms of young Rose McCann.
He’d a heart to let and no tenant yet
Did he meet with in shawl or gown
But in she went and he asked no rent
From the star of the County Down.
At the crossroads fair he’ll be surely there
And he'll dress in my Sunday clothes
And he'll try sheep's eyes, and deludhering lies
On the heart of the nut-brown rose.
No pipe he'll smoke, no horse he'll yoke
Though with rust my plow turns brown
Till a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.