“Belfast Mountains (The Diamonds of Derry)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: c.1810 (Catnach broadside, according to Leyden)
Keywords: love betrayal curse
Found in: Ireland


(The singer hears a girl lamenting). She is "confined in the bands of love" by a "sailor lad that did inconstant prove." She begs for relief. (She meets her false love and begs him to change his mind.) (She curses him bitterly)


SHenry: "Other title: 'The Diamonds of Derry.' ... This is a version of a street ballad popular in 1800.... The Belfast Mountains (Cave Hill) were supposed to contain diamonds which shone at night. They were often referred to in the ballads of the period." The SHenry version has no reference to diamonds.

Leyden's c.1930 version is from SHenry H519. Leyden's earlier versions refer to the diamonds: "Had I but all the diamonds, That on the rocks do grow, I'd give them to my Irish laddie, If he to me his love would show." Leyden states that these lines contain "a clue to a mystery that continually aroused interest and fascination throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The mystery centered around the existence of a diamond known as 'the Cavehill Diamond'. Whether or not the diamond ever existed is still a contentious point and perhaps cynics were right to dismiss it as a chunk of limestone." Leyden goes on to report several accounts between 1895 and 1920. (See also "The Cavehill Diamond" (I) and (II)). - BS

Cross references


  1. SHenry H519, p. 389, "Belfast Mountains" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Leyden 1, "The Belfast Mountains" c.1810 (1 text, 1 tune); 2, "The Belfast Mountains" c.1893 (1 text, 1 tune); 3, "The Belfast Mountains" c.1930 (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #1062
  4. BI, HHH519