Star Of The County Down

arr. Mike Wilson

If you plan to perform traditional Irish music, this one is a staple. There are many arrangements of this song ranging from very slow to very upbeat. We chose the middle ground with a standard, mid-tempo 2-beat feel. Traditional instruments include the whistle, fiddle, accordion, bodhrán, hammer dulcimer, and mandolin, along with guitar, bass, and light drums.

So who is this "star" of the County Down? And from whence does she come? The lyrics state "from a bóithrín green came a sweet cailín." Bóithrín (pronounced boreen) is a Gaelic word meaning "path, lane, track" like maybe a cowpath. Cailín, (pronounced like the name Colleen) also Gaelic, means "girl" derived from the word caile meaning "woman or countrywoman." In verse two, we learn her name is Rosie McCann and she comes from the banks of the Bann, which (only guessing here) is "near Banbridge Town in the County Down." In the choruses "Quay" is pronounced Kay. It's worth mentioning when the choruses use the term "brown cailín," it's referring to her "nut-brown hair" as cited in both verses one and two. The song is sung from the perspective of a fella that spots young Rosie. Instantly infatuated, he makes inquiries in verse one, and by verse two, wants to marry her.

As this is a story song, our unison arrangement will require good diction to keep your audience engaged. Keep it light and bouncy. Though likely difficult with younger singers, try to get them to move their mouths to help maintain clarity. If nothing else, it's a terrific challenge to learn and perform in an unfamiliar lyrical style.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.