The Star of the County Down

Gerry Brady certainly put a smile on our faces with this brilliant rendition of the classic Irish folk song, The Star of the County Down, as he accompanied himself on the bones.


If you want to sing along with him, here are the lyrics for the first two verses:

The Star of the County Down

Near 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
Sure the coaxing elf, I’d to shake 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 brown colleen
That I met in the County Down

As she onward sped, sure I shook me head
And I gazed with a feeling rare
And I said, says I, to a passer-by
Who’s the maid with the nut brown hair ?
He smiled at me and with pride says he
That’s the gem of old Ireland’s crown
She’s Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann
She’s the star of the County Down

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


The lyrics of this popular song were penned by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) from Ramelton, County Donegal. It’s been recorded countless times by Irish traditional and folk artists over the years. The rest of the lyrics can be found here. There are infinite variations of these lyrics and the song can be sung with as many or as few verses as you’d like. 

It shares a melody with another old Irish folk song called My Love Nell. Though the songs are about slightly different subject matters, Nell too was from the County Down.

Irish trad punk band The Pogues recorded a version in 1989. Intriguingly, a Hebrew version also exists by folk singer, Ehud Banai, called  ‘The Star of the District Gush Dan’

Maith an fear, Gerry!  If you’re feeling inspired by Gerry’s bones playing, you can browse our Percussion Section here.

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  1. On a hill overlooking Cook Inlet in Alaska, so quite, the snow flakes float down. I’ve listened to the music kindly sent from far Ireland and I thank you so very much. It’s a lonely time, music surely helps. Thank you, thank you.

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