Diamonds that on rocks do grow: revision, language and memory in the ballad 'Belfast Mountains' (c. 1813–1820)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the contexts and subtexts of a single anonymous nineteenth-century ballad. Set amongst the hills overlooking the town, ‘Belfast Mountains’ was revised and republished by a host of English and Scottish printers throughout the late-Georgian era. Although, on the face of it, the song tells a maudlin tale of a ‘maid’ and her ‘inconstant’ lover, close analyses of its many editions – engaging with political concerns around commoditization, language standardisation, gender, and the Irish nation – reveal a subtle but potent set of historical undercurrents. In demonstrating how its lyrics subtly retain memories from the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and converse with the wider colonial history of the region, this chapter makes the case that this Belfast song be regarded as an invaluable artefact.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of Irish song, 1100–1850
EditorsConor Caldwell, Moyra Haslett, Lillis Ó Laoire
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190859701
ISBN (Print)9780190859671
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 Jun 2022


  • Ethnomusicology
  • Ballad
  • Belfast
  • nineteenth-century ballad
  • Belfast Mountains
  • Belfast song
  • Rebellion of 1798
  • Colonial history of the UK
  • Colonialism
  • Irish national identity
  • Nation and Gender
  • Standardisation
  • commoditization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History
  • Music


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