"Star of the County Down" is an old Irish ballad set near Banbridge in County Down, in Northern Ireland. The words are by Cathal Garvey, 1866-1927, from Ramelton, County Donegal. The song shares its melody with many other works, including the almost identical English tune "Kingsfold", well known from several popular hymns, such as "Led By the Spirit." The folk tune was the basis for Ralph Vaughan Williams' Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus. The song is notable for its 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.
|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 from 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.
|colleen (mot irlandais) – une fille irlandaise |
boreen (mot irlandais) un chemin de terre
sheen – la brillance
coaxing - cajolant
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.
|maid – une demoiselle|
|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.
|harvest – la récolte |
cocked – penché
to yoke – atteler
plough – une charrue
rust – la rouille
bride – une jeune mariée
fireside – le foyer
|As she onward sped, sure I scratched my head, |
And I looked with a feelin' rare,
And I says, says I, to a passer-by,
"Whose the maid with the nut brown hair"?
He looked at me and he says, say's he,
"That's the gem of Ireland's crown.
Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,
She's the star of the County Down".
|to speed onward (ici)– continuer à toute allure |
passer-by – un passant
gem – le bijou
bank – la rive, le bord