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I'll Tell Me Ma

"I'll Tell Me Ma"
Roud #2649
Language English
Form Folk song
"I'll Tell Me Ma"
Single by Van Morrison and The Chieftains
from the album Irish Heartbeat
A-side "I'll Tell Me Ma"
B-side "Tá Mo Chleamhnas Déanta"
Released 1988
Recorded December 1987-January 1988
Genre Folk
Length 2:29
Label Mercury
Producer(s) Van Morrison, Paddy Moloney
Van Morrison and The Chieftains singles chronology
"Queen of the Slipstream"
"I'll Tell Me Ma"
"Have I Told You Lately"
Irish Heartbeat track listing
"She Moved Through the Fair"
"I'll Tell Me Ma"

"I'll Tell Me Ma" (also called "The Wind") is a well-known children's song. It was collected in various parts of England in the 19th century and again appears in collections from shortly after the turn of the 20th century.[1] In Ireland the chorus usually refers to Belfast city and is known colloquially as "The Belle of Belfast City", although it is also adapted to other Irish cities, such as Dublin.[2] English versions refer to the "Golden City" or "London City". This song is Roud Folk Song Index number 2649.

The song accompanies a children's game. A ring is formed by the children joining hands, one player standing in the centre. When asked, "Please tell me who they be," the girl in the middle gives the name or initials of a boy in the ring (or vice versa). The ring then sings the rest of the words, and the boy who was named goes into the centre.[1]


  • Recordings and renditions 1
    • Parodies 1.1
  • References 2
  • External links 3

Recordings and renditions

The song has been covered on numerous albums, some of which have adapted the lyrics to their locales.

One of the more notable renditions was by Van Morrison and The Chieftains, for their collaboration record Irish Heartbeat in 1988;[3] the album reached number 18 on the UK Albums Chart. The song was guest sung by Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners on The Chieftains album Live From Dublin: A Tribute To Derek Bell in 2005. The Chieftains also played the song with Cartoon Network character Brak for the latter's variety show special, Brak Presents the Brak Show Starring Brak and related album in 2000.[4]

Sham Rock released a rendition of "Tell Me Ma" in 1998.[5] The single reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart.[6] remained on the charts for 17 weeks, and sold over 200,000 copies. It has been included in various compilation albums that have sold a total of over 3 million copies.[5]

Other notable recordings include:



  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ "The Irish Sessions ::". Young Dubliners. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Browne, David (11 August 1988). "Irish Heartbeat | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Brak - Brak Presents The Brak Album Starring Brak - at Rhino". Rhino Records. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Capital Celtic Network - Sham Rock". 11 May 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "1998-11-07 Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive". Official Charts. 7 November 1998. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Guida, Nick. "The Boys Won't Leave The Girls Alone - 1962 - Columbia CL 1909 LP (mono) - Sleeve Notes". Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem website. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Dubliners Discography:1". Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Rossiter, Nicky (Jan–Feb 2007). "Releases - Jan/Feb 2007 - The Dubliners - Live at Vicar Street".  
  10. ^ Tobbler, John (3 October 2013). "Lick the Tins: Blind Man on a Flying Horse - Sleeve Notes". Mainly Norfolk. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "APHC: Performers, music sources and credits".  
  12. ^ Winick, Steve (June–July 1995). "Craic on the Road,"Review of . Dirty Linen Magazine (58). 
  13. ^ I'll tell me ma by Orthodox Celts on Spotify. Spotify. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Celts Strike Again".  
  15. ^ "Wiggledance (1997) The Wiggles. [videorecording]". Trove.  
  16. ^ "The Wiggles movie soundtrack". Trove.  
  17. ^ "The Wiggles - Apples & Bananas | Music CD | ABC Shop". Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  18. ^ Cater, Evan (28 July 1998). "Gaelic Storm - Gaelic Storm". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Sleger, Dave. "Za to Zato - Belfast Food". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  20. ^ The Tossers 'Communication & Conviction' CD. "The Tossers: The Tossers 'Communication & Conviction' CD - Music". Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "The Tossers - Maidrin Rua / Tell Me Ma Lyrics". MetroLyrics. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  22. ^ """Thank You for Hearing Me: "I'll Tell Me Ma. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  23. ^ "Sinead O'Connor: Sean-Nós Nua".  
  24. ^ "Sons of Liberty - Amadan | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. 25 March 2003. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "The Poxy Boggards | Whiskey Business | CD Baby Music Store". Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Irish Sessions ::". Young Dubliners. 8 December 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Irish Sessions :: Lyrics". Young Dubliners. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "'"Beatnik Turtle: 'I'll Tell Me Ma. NPR. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  29. ^ Lynch, Mick (12 October 2004). "Gig Reviews | Christy Moore in Newbridge". CLUAS. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "Live at Vicar Street". 16 June 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "The Irish Tenors - Discography". Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  32. ^ """Orla Fallon releases "My Land. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  33. ^ "Reviews". Marc Gunn. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  34. ^ "Renaissance Festival Lyrics: I'll Tell My Ma/I'll Tell My Cat". 16 June 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 

External links

  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • Roud 2649 at Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - this lists alternate titles and renditions including "The Wind" and "The Rain Rains Down"
  • Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. (eds.). "I'll Tell My Ma (I)". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University at Fresno. 
  • Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. (eds.). "Wind, The (Rain, Rain, the Wind Does Blow)". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University at Fresno. 
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