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I'll Tell Me Ma (the Belle of Belfast City) - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

I'll Tell me Ma, otherwise known as The Belle of Belfast City, is most likely a children's skipping song, or street song, from Northern Ireland.  Having said that, the lyrics are often adapted to suit the location in which it is sung.  So, for example, there are versions of the lyrics in which the Belle comes from Brisbane city and London City and Dublin City and the Golden City (the latter apparently refers to Edinburgh, Scotland, by the way).  There are also variants of the words, for example: 

'I have a bonnet trimmed with blue.
'Why don't you wear it?' 'So I do.'
'When do you wear it?' 'When I can -
When I go out with my young man.
My young man's away at sea,
When he comes back he'll marry me;
Buy me a biscuit, buy a tart,
What do you think of my sweetheart?'

and, "My Aunt Jane, she called me in, She gave me tea out her wee tin, Half a bap with sugar on the top And three wee mice from her wee shop." Sometimes the heroine will die, "if she doesn't get the feller with the tartan tie" (presumably a Scottish version).

So pick your favourite lyrics.  The most commonly sung ones are shown below.

Chords

     G                           C
I'll tell me ma when I get home,

        D                                 G
The boys won't leave the girls alone.

         G                                       C
They pulled my hair and they stole my comb,

      D                               G
But that's alright when I get home.

G                            C
She is handsome, she is pretty,

G                             D
She is the belle of Belfast city;

G                         C
She is courtin' - one, two, three.

G                            D          G
Please won't you tell me who is she?

Lyrics

I'll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won't leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that's all right till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty,
She is the Belle of Belfast city
She is courtin' - one, two three.
Please won't you tell me who is she?

Albert Mooney says he loves her,
All the boys are fightin' for her.
They rap on her door and ring on the bell.
Will she come out? Who can tell?

Out she comes as white as snow,
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.
Old Jenny Murray says that she will die
If she doesn't get the fella with the roving eye.

I'll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won't leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that's all right till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty,
She is the Belle of Belfast city
She is courtin' - one, two three.
Please won't you tell me who is she?

Let the wind and the rain and the hail blow high
And the snow come travellin' through the sky.
She's as nice as apple pie,
She'll get her own lad by and by.

When she gets a lad of her own
She won't tell her ma when she gets home.
Let them all come as they will;
It's Albert Mooney she loves still. 

I'll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won't leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that's all right till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty,
She is the Belle of Belfast city
She is courtin' - one, two three.
Please won't you tell me who is she?

Other Irish Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs


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