Belfast Child

Album: Street Fighting Years (1989)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • This song was inspired by the 1987 Enniskillen bombing, when a bomb planted by the IRA exploded during a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, killing 11 people and injuring at least 63. Simple Minds lead singer Jim Kerr explained to Q magazine in 1989: "In the second part of 'Belfast Child' I'm trying to relate to people in Northern Ireland who've also lost loved ones. I'm trying to talk about the madness and sadness and emptiness. I'm not saying I have any pearls of wisdom, but I have a few questions to ask. When I'm asked on American TV who my heroes are, rather than saying Lou Reed or Bob Dylan or someone who goes without saying, I say there are these people called Amnesty International and what they are doing I think is rather heroic. It only takes about 30 seconds."
  • The music is based on a traditional song called "She Moved Through The Fair," which Jim Kerr heard for the first time a few days after the bombing and decided to use the melody for this song.
  • This runs 6:39. At the time, it was the second-longest UK #1, after The Beatles "Hey Jude ."
  • The B-side of the single was "Mandela Day," which was written for Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert on June 11, 1988.
  • This was Simple Minds' first and only UK #1 hit, but they have charted in the UK Top-40 24 times.

Comments: 18

  • Sooz from NowhereIt's not about the british army, it's about the Enerskillan bombing that was planted by the IRA.......
  • Maureen from ScotlandHeard this song again yesterday. Beautiful tune. Shame said Amnesty International now support even worse scourge the killing of other innocents ie unborn babies in the name of women's rights across all Ireland, Scotland and the world.
  • Paddy Keyes from WexfordSarah from Scandinavia, your bigoted sentiments support a xenophobic movement that resulted in the genocide of millions of Irish people and 800 years of subjugation. The British referred to the Irish as "white negroes" in the 1800s. I do not defend the IRA. I condemn the actions of many republicans. However, I won't bother trying to explain the complexity of the situation to you, and I won't try to convince you of your innate senselessness. You lack the self-awareness to ever understand how warped your perception of reality is.
  • Vinny from DerrySarah from Scandinavia, what day has someone from Scandinavia have on Irish people’s lives? The British are responsible for millions of Irish people’s deaths, there’s only one side that can be referred to as scum and its not the Irish - most of the world can agree on that one.
  • Sarah from ScandinaviaPaul from Dublin - You are talking utter s--te! There will never be a united ireland. There will be no people's joy in NI until the republican scum f--k off over the border where they belong.
  • Jorg from Utrecht, NetherlandsIt was produced by the legendary Trevor Horn, also responsible for smash hits of Frankie goes to Hollywood, Yes, Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and so on and so on
  • Icey from Perth, AustraliaIt has nothing to do with the British army in Northern Ireland fact! This a beautiful song about how Ireland was once a united country, and now is split between religion. Perhaps one day the war will end, and brothers and sisters of Ireland will sing one song, and the people of Ireland will regain the understanding and practice the spiritual place it truly is. We are all Ireland!
  • Eisso from Groningen, NetherlandsThe funny thing is: Belfast children went to a lot of trouble, but they've ALWAYS been singing! Orange or green songs, funny songs, dirty songs, dance songs, but singing they did all the time, also in the 80's when this song was recorded.
  • Paul from Dublin, Irelandthis song is about the english occupation of Ireland. the line 'When The Belfast Child Sings Again' is a reference to the people's joy returning when the english leave.
  • Chaosz from Amsterdam, NetherlandsI've never been there but listening to this beautiful song makes me feel that I can see it.

  • Andrew from Huddersfield, EnglandNow that peaceful times abound and there is unity in government lets hope that the Belfast children Billy and Mary are indeed singing again.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesIt is a lovely song, I can still remember when I first heard it, I was 8 and the 'Minds were performing it on the UK music show "Top of the Pops" on BBC1, it really had a profound effect! The single was actually part of an EP called "The Ballad of the Streets EP" which also featured "Belfast Child", a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Biko" and "Mandela Day"
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesDaan, U2 may perhaps have covered "She Moved Through The Fair", but not "Belfast Child" as a song in it's own right
  • Steven from Derry, IrelandThe scots are our close cousins and this song, at the time, was a special. For me it struct the ole heart strings. At least someone understands us!!!
  • Andy from Leeds, EnglandJim Kerr as you know is Scottish. His parents are Irish.
  • Daan from Tegelen, Netherlandswasn't this once covered by U2?
  • Acrobat from Adelaide, AustraliaIt is an amazing song... very touching.
  • Maureen from Randalstown, Irelandbelfast child is a wonderful song the lyrics have a true meaning for those of us who live there
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges

James Williamson of Iggy & the StoogesSongwriter Interviews

The Stooges guitarist (and producer of the Kill City album) talks about those early recordings and what really happened with David Bowie.

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian OrchestraSongwriter Interviews

Writing great prog metal isn't easy, especially when it's for 60 musicians.

Dr. John

Dr. JohnSongwriter Interviews

The good doctor shares some candid insights on recording with Phil Spector and The Black Keys.

Mike Campbell

Mike CampbellSongwriter Interviews

Mike is lead guitarist with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and co-writer of classic songs like "Boys Of Summer," "Refugee" and "The Heart Of The Matter."

Joan Armatrading

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."