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The Star of Donegal

[ Roud 2996 ; Henry H555 ; Ballad Index HHH555 ; Mudcat 172336 ; trad.]

Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People Colm O Lochlainn: Irish Street Ballads

Colm O Lochlainn printed The Star of Donegal as sung by P. Walsh of Clogher Valley, Co. Tyrone, in his 1939 book Irish Street Ballads.

John McGettigan sang The Star of Donegal in a 1936 recording made in Philadelphia. It was included in 1979 on the Topic album of classic recordings of Irish traditional music in America, John McGettigan and His Irish Minstrels.


P. Walsh sings The Star of Donegal

One evening fair to take the air alone I chanced to stray
Down by a limpid silv’ry stream that flows beside the way,
I heard two lovers talking by an ancient ruined hall
And the fair one’s name was Mary Jane, the Star of Donegal.

“My lovely maid,” the youth he said, “I’m going across the foam
Unto the land of stars and stripes where peace and plenty flows.
I want your faithful promise that you’ll wed with none at all
Until I do return to you and the lands of Donegal.”

She blushed and sighed and then replied, “It grieves my heart full sore
To think you are compelled to go and leave the Shamrock shore.
Here is my faithful promise that I’ll wed with none at all,
But stay at home and do not roam from the lands of Donegal.”

“My sweet fair maid,” the youth then said, “at home I cannot stay,
To California’s gold fields I’m bound to cross the sea
To accumulate a fortune great, to build a splendid hall,
To decorate and cultivate the lands of Donegal.”

She raised her lily-white hands and said, “Yon castle in its day
With all its plains and large demesnes from Lifford to the sea
Belonged to our ancestors with many a splendid hall
And if my father had his rights, I’d be heir of Donegal.”

“My darling maid,” the youth then said, “the day is drawing near
When Irishmen will return again from all their long career.
Our holy land by God’s command the fairest land of all,
And Heaven will see old Ireland free, Bright Star of Donegal.”

She blushed and sighed and then replied, “Heaven grant that we may see
St. Patrick’s isle of Saints to shine great glorious and free.
If that be so there’s none will go to New York or Montreal
But will stay at home and will not roam from the lands of Donegal.”

He clasped her in his arms and said, “My darling well you know
I love you very dearly and loath I am to go.
Let us get wed without fear or dread, that puts an end to all
And then I will have my darling girl the Star of Donegal.”

She gave consent and off they went to meet with Father Hugh
Who joined their hands in wedlock bands without any more ado.
From Derry quay they sailed away and bade farewell to all
And now they’re in America far away from Donegal.