I’d been working on this song, and it happily fits this month’s challenge. A friend told me the story of how a number of Belfast families arranged for their kids to stay with extended families in England (London or Liverpool mainly) to avoid getting involved in the street violence common in Belfast during the ‘Troubles’. I tried to give it an Irish sounding tune, but the end result bears a striking resemblance to the Lakes of Pontchartrain.


  1. The sound of gunfire down the street, and the smell of petrol bombs //
    Broken glass beneath their feet, burnt cars outside their home //
    The Peace Wall kept the sides apart, but it didn’t keep the peace //
    They left it behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees //
    Connor and his gang of friends, knew the language of the street //
    Old enough to throw a few stones, too proud to accept defeat //
    They were one big family, their own community //
    Which they left behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees //
    They couldn’t explain what the troubles were, but they sensed it wasn’t fair //
    They didn’t know all the history, but they found injustice there //
    The army was on the other side, it was plain enough to see //
    But they left it behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees //
    Every day they walked to school, and crossed sectarian lines //
    Insults and missiles were thrown at them, and they paid them back in kind //
    Connor was going to end up in jail, or the local cemetery //
    But he left it behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees //
    His mam and dad took him out one day, on the streets of their home town //
    And they said we’ve got a plan for you, some friends that we’ve found //
    They’ll be taking care of you, they’ll be your family //
    So he left it behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees //
    Two hundred kids said their goodbyes, and left for London town //
    They never forgot their mammy’s tears, or their daddy’s solemn frowns //
    But they were saved from the H Blocks, and the life of misery //
    That they’d left behind in ’73, the Belfast refugees

  2. Thanks Andy. I didn’t know about it either, but it was my friend’s family that provided one of the places of refuge in London. I think it was arranged quietly and informally. The parents were as worried that their kids would become perpetrators of violence as victims of it.

  3. Yep, I didn’t know about this subject either. To be honest. I’m not that familiar with Lakes of Pontchartrain, either (And me a country music fan!). As ever I am in awe of your guitar picking. What does interest me is the melody is so jaunty but the subject sad (though I fully take your point that they didn’t end up in H Block), but it actually works a treat Nice one.

  4. Thanks Phil and Kyle, and everyone else who has given me such positive feedback, both on the Facebook page and here. I’m relatively new to songwriting, but TisT has given me the impetus to write more, and the comments are always very welcome.