Star of the County Down is a traditional ballad from Northern Ireland, also known as Reáilt Condae An Dún. The lyrics are by Cathal McGarvey and start like this:
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down, one morning last July
Down a bóithrín green came a sweet cailín,
And she smiled as she passed me by
The song is about a young man who is hoping to meet Rose McCann, a beautiful and charming girl. She is referred to as the “Star of the County Down”. After meeting her, he can’t stop thinking of her and by the end of the song he imagines marrying the girl.
The version that I’ve recorded is an arrangement by Loralyn Staples and André van Harem. Loralyn Staples is a fiddle teacher and created many videos to learn to play the fiddle. I really liked her arrangement because it came with piano accompaniment at full speed and also an accompaniment at a slower speed to practice at first.
I’ve also recorded an different, faster version: Star of the County Down Reel. It’s pretty fast and I didn’t manage to play it at full speed. Luckily there was also a slower accompaniment version to play along. Maybe later, I can do the faster version…
Star of the County Down is in A minor and Loralyn Staples dedicates a pretty long lesson here about preparing to play this fiddle tune. It’s filled with good suggestions, like for example how to pivot your fingers when stretching the pinky finger to not loose intonation. After the scales and arpeggios it’s so much easier to play the song.
And here is a great version of Star of the County Down by Orthodox Celts.