"Belfast Child" is a song by Simple Minds, first released as the lead track on the ''Ballad of the Streets'' EP on 6 February 1989. The EP also included "Mandela Day" (originally its B-side). The record reached number one on the UK Singles Chart as well as in Ireland and the Netherlands, and it became a top-ten hit in Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and West Germany.

Style and influence

The song uses the music from the Irish folk song "She Moved Through the Fair", but has completely different words. Jim Kerr recalled in ''1000 UK Number 1 Hits'' why he used the melody, "I first heard the melody (of She Moved Through The Fair) a few days after the Enniskillen bombing (when a bomb planted by the IRA exploded during a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, killing 12 people and injuring at least 63), and like everybody when you see the images I was sick. In the second part of the song, I'm trying to relate to people in Northern Ireland who lost loved ones. I'm trying to talk about the madness, the sadness and the emptiness. I'm not saying I have any pearls of wisdom, but I have a few questions to ask".


The song received rave reviews, receiving a five-star review in ''Q'' magazine. In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Dave Thompson described "Belfast Child" as being "an epic, heartstring-tugging song. The piece gains even more power in its second half, when the drums and guitar kick in, and the arrangement billows out with instrumentation."

Music video

The music video to the song was shot in black and white and displays footage of children and deprivation in Belfast. It was directed by Andy Morahan and edited by Mark Alchin.


The B-side of the single was "Mandela Day", a song recorded to commemorate and performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert on 11 June 1988 though not released commercially until its inclusion on this single. The CD single and the 12" editions added a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Biko". All three tracks appeared on the band's Street Fighting Years album, released three months later.

Track listings

7" vinyl * UK, Germany: Virgin / SMX 3 * France: Virgin / 90496 12" vinyl * UK: Virgin / SMXT 3 * UK: Virgin / SMX BS (limited edition box set, including 4 black-and-white photographs from the music video) * France: Virgin / 80432 * Germany: Virgin / 611 998 * Yugoslavia: Jugoton /MXSVIRG 18016 CD * UK: Virgin / SMXCD3 (3") * UK: Virgin / SMXCDT3 (5")


Weekly charts

Year-end charts



External links

* {{authority control Category:1989 singles Category:1989 songs Category:Dutch Top 40 number-one singles Category:European Hot 100 Singles number-one singles Category:Irish Singles Chart number-one singles Category:Music videos directed by Andy Morahan Category:Simple Minds songs Category:Single Top 100 number-one singles Category:Song recordings produced by Stephen Lipson Category:Song recordings produced by Trevor Horn Category:Songs about The Troubles (Northern Ireland) Category:Songs written by Charlie Burchill Category:Songs written by Jim Kerr Category:Songs written by Mick MacNeil Category:UK Singles Chart number-one singles Category:Virgin Records singles