“Star of the County Down”–an Irish ballad–one of the all-time greats.
Up until now I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics, or rather the way they’re written. The tune’s mesmerizing in itself, but the words by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) make it even more so.
He distills a vivid story into memorable, and very singable, lyrics highlighted by the tight rhyme scheme: double quatrain stanzas, with the first and third lines of each quatrain featuring an internal rhyme [aa]b[cc]b. (The refrain is a single quatrain with the same rhyming pattern.)
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down,
One morning last July
Down a boithrin green came a sweet cailin,
And she smiled as she passed me by…
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Enjoy: