Star of the County Down

Dundrum, County Down

From one of the many, many Chieftains and Friends collaborations, Irishman Van Morrison joins the lads for a great song. The tune itself is of English origin, a folk tune called “Kingsfold” that has also been used frequently in hymn settings.

Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland. The tune was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England (thus its name), Ralph Vaughan Williams (PHH 316) introduced it as a hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906) as a setting for Horatius Bonar’s “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (488).

Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Star of the County Down

In Banbridge town in the County Down
One morning last July,
From a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed me by.
She looked so sweet fronn 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 feelin’ rare,
And I say’s, say’s I, to a passer-by,
“Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair”?
He smiled at me and he says’s, say’s he,
“That’s the gem of Oreland’s crown.
It’s 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
Till my plough turns rust coloured brown.
Till a smiling bride, by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.

Chorus / repeat


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