My Old Belfast

27 Jan

belfast-by-night_2092241b

I’ll speak to you, dear stranger, if you really want to know,
So listen , and I’ll tell you why I love this city so.
Belfast is an Ulsterman with features dour and grim,
It’s a pint of creamy porter and a Sunday morning hymn;
The dingy little café where they serve you dainty teas.
It’s up the road to the anchor, for lots of vinegar on hot peas.
**
It’s a banner on July the twelfth, a sticky toffee apple,
A righteous little gospel hall, a Roman Catholic chapel;
‘Twas a paper boy shouting “telly, sixth”, a piece of apple tart,
A fry upon a Saturday, or a coal breek on a cart.
Do you mind a Corporation gas man, complete with bowler hat,
A wee shop at the corner, a friendly bit of chat.
**
An oul lad in a duncher, the woman in a shawl,
A pinch of snuff, a tattie farl, a Loyal Orange Hall.
The tobacco smell in York street, a beg of yella man,
An Easter egg that’s dyed with whins, a slice of ormo pan.
The wee lad with spricks in an oul glass jar,
The preacher at the customs house, or an old Victorian bar.
**
Mud banks on the lagan when the tide is running low,
The men collecting refuse , bonfires in sandy row;
A bag of salty dullis, a boul of Irish stew,
A goldfish bought in Gresham Street, a preacher at the queue.
It’s a portrait of King Billy upon a gable wall,
A flower seller on a stool, outside the city hall.
**
A half moon round the door step, a polis man on guard,
A man whose crying “delf for regs”, a little whitewashed yard.
It’s the Mays market on a Friday, the ships lined at the docks,
It’s a shiny polished fender, a bunch of green shamrocks;
It’s herrings fried in oaten meal, with a drink of buttermilk;
It’s a snowy linen handkerchief as soft as finest silk.
**
O’Hara’s bap with country butter, a dander round the zoo,
A climb up tough Ben Madigan to get a splendid view.
It’s a bunch of savoury scallions, a plate of buttery champ,
Hopscotch on the footpath, a swing around a lamp.
Delf dogs on the mantelpiece, the wee man from the pru,
The chimney sweep on his bicycle, coming to do the flue.
**
The ever present vista of the hills of Castlereagh,
The deathless hush on Saturday when footie teams play away,
Killarney’s lakes and fells, on the bells of the assembly hall,
Spikey broken bottles stuck on the backyard wall.
It’s bacon boiled with pamphrey, served when piping hot,
With skerry spuds, balls of flour, cracked laughing in the pot.
**
It’s the smell of mansion polish on the lino in the hall,
Sunday school excursion, a treat for one and all;
It’s the islandmen who build great ships that take us far to sea,
It’s S.D. Bells in Ann Street where they sell the finest tea;
It’s fish and chips in paper, on a Friday from Johnny Longs;
The Sally Army Band on Sunday to save the sinning throng.
**
It’s a wee walk up the Lisburn Road and back by the Malone,
The Albert Clock in High Street with its rich and mellow tone.
It’s a Barney Hughes hot cross bun, a canary in a cage,
The old men talking in the park of a past and better age;
It’s the sharp expressive dialect of everyone at large,
A ton of coal on the lagan a floating in a barge.
**
It’s wemen on the windystool when the summer sun shines down,
A “v” of apple tattie or a wee race into town.
It’s a needle to an anchor in Smithfield’s famous mart,
I think I’d better call a halt before I break my heart.
And that’s the answer stranger and now I’m sure you’ll see,
Why Belfast is the only place in all the world for me.
**
Based on an original idea
By Bill Nesbitt

**

This is another poem I came across recently.  It’s a great account of Old Belfast, and some of the things mentioned in it will only be understood by folk from Belfast! Enjoy.  I won’t be taking the credit for this one either, though I’m not sure who wrote it.  If anyone can help in that regard, please leave a comment…

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