I’LL TELL MY MA: An Irish Song

A happy little ditty about courtin’. There’s some discussion between the cities as to whether this song belongs to Dublin or Belfast. Though known as a drinking song today, it was originally a playground chant for children, accompanied by a game that was a cross between tag and “Ring Around the Rosie”. Suffice it to say it’s of Irish origin. In the interest of fairness, I’ve included Dublin below, but Sinéad O’Connor prefers Belfast, and her version is here.


I’ll tell me ma, when I go home,
The boys won’t leave the girls alone.
They pull my hair, they stole my comb,
And that’s all right ’til I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty,
She’s the belle of Dublin 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 fighting for her.
They rap at the door and they ring at the bell,
Saying ‘Oh, my true-love are you well?’

Out she comes as white as snow,
Rings on her fingers, bells on her toes.
Old Jenny Murphy says she’ll die,
If she doesn’t get the fellow with the roving eye.


Let the wind and the rain and the hail blow high
And the snow come tumblin’ from the sky,
She’s as sweet as apple pie
And 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,
For it’s Albert Mooney she loves still.


Notes: There’s a parody of this song by Marc Gunn titled “I’ll Tell Me Cat” on his album “Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers”, and a Serbian folk group, The Orthodox Celts, sing it as “The Belle of Belgrade City” (but that’s beyond the pale!)

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