“The Belfast Beauty”


The singer met "the beauty of sweet Belfast Town' in Donegall Street. He describes her "angelic beauty" If he were rich "all earthly treasure I'd resign To wed with this damsel" He ends with a riddle that will spell her name.


The riddle: "One half of a town in the province of Leinster The first twice in station with one fourth of a fowl And when it's completely placed in arrangement The next in rotation it must be a vowel The name of a berry that is much admired Neither add nor subtract but when it's penned down It will spell you the name of this charming fair dame That I title the beauty of sweet Belfast Town"

For a similar riddle on a name see "Drihaureen O Mo Chree (Little Brother of My Heart)

Among other classic Greek references here: "I thought she was Flora or lovely Aurora Or Helen the cause of the downfall of Troy" and "If Clio fair or Queen Dido was there Neither Juno nor Venus of fame and renown ...." See the notes to "Sheila Nee Iyer" for some traits of the "hedge school master" school of Irish ballad writing. "Sheila Nee Iyer" also has a typical "if I were king..." verse ("O had I the wealth of the Orient store, All the gems of Peru or the Mexican ore, Or the hand of a Midas to mould o'er and o'er ...."); "The Belfast Beauty" says "Had I wealth and grandeur like Great Alexander ... Or was I the monarch of a European nation There is none but my darling should possess the crown...." As seems often the case for this kind of song, the outcome is unresolved. - BS


  1. Leyden 27, "The Belfast Beauty" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Leyd027


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1989 (Leyden)
Keywords: courting riddle beauty