Projects / The Shipyard Slips

Sounds of Sailortown Call Out

We are inviting you to take part in a digital version of the singing workshop, where you record yourself singing the chosen score, The Shipyard Slips, in whichever part you choose, send it back to us, which then we will edit into one single song with many voices.

The Shipyard Slips is about the decline of the Belfast shipyards and exile. The song was written by David Wilde (1977), who was a member of the group ‘Men Of No Property’. The Shipyard Slips references the ‘Island Men’– the men who would have worked in the shipyards on Queen’s Island – and details the hardships and historical events in that area. The song references loss and longing for something, a narrative that resonates both with the history of Sailortown and the present day. 

Instructions for recording

Ruth has recorded herself singing various parts of The Shipyard Slips including all parts, the highs, the lows, and the melody (which can be helpful when practising the song):

The Shipyard Slips: all parts

The Shipyard Slips: high part

The Shipyard Slips: low part

The Shipyard Slips: melody and high part

The Shipyard Slips: melody and low part

The Shipyard Slips: melody

Choose which part (the high or the low) you would prefer to sing. The lyrics are provided below or can be downloaded as a PDF here. You can record more than one part if you wish.

Tips for recording great audio:

  • Record your audio on your phone or laptop.
  • Find a quiet place and use an external microphone if you have one (but not required!).
  • Do your best to make sure the ambient noise (dishwashers, fire trucks, barking dogs, TVs, etc.) is at a minimum. The goal is to get a good, clean sound.
  • Use headphones to listen to Ruth’s recording of The Shipyard Slips (as you don’t want that audio to be recorded – just your voice!)

Save your file:

  • Use any standard audio file format. 
  • When you name your file, use this:
    Example: low_BarbaraSmith.m4a

Submission Instructions:

  1. Please send your audio to us by email or if too large via to We are unable to accept files via any other method.
  2. If you have any issues/questions, please get in touch with Jane at

Song lyrics

The Shipyard Slips, by David Wilde (1977)

“From Belfast town I’m on my way
On a ship that was built for the tourist trade
I leave behind the land where I was born
And I won’t return till my fortune is made

For I’ve served my time with the Island men
And I’ve known good times and work in plenty
But there’s no work now in these troubled times
For the shipyard slips they’re lying empty

Farewell to my father and my mother fair
Old age has laid its hand upon you
You’ve loved me well and never failed
And it’s leaving your side my heart will rue.

I’ve promised to write when I’ve settled down
To ease your mind for I know you’ll worry
Just think of the time when I’ll return
But don’t count the days for time won’t hurry

I’ll remember the hills and the fresh north air
I’ll remember the girls with their friendly smiles
I’ll think of the friends I love so dear,
And I hope my love transcends the miles.

And I’m leaving the land where I was born
But I long for the day of my returning
To a job, a home and peace of mind
For the Belfast people I’ll always be yearning”