Molly Malone is an iconic figure in Irish folklore, immortalized in the popular song “Molly Malone,” also known as “Cockles and Mussels” or “In Dublin’s Fair City.” This folk song tells the tale of a young woman named Molly Malone, a fishmonger by day and a part-time lady of the night, who tragically dies young from a fever. While the story of Molly Malone has endured for centuries, there is much debate surrounding the historical accuracy of the character. In this article, we will explore the story of Molly Malone and the famous statue dedicated to her in Dublin.
The Legend of Molly Malone
The origin of Molly Malone is shrouded in mystery, with no definitive evidence confirming her existence. The song, which dates back to the 19th century, was first published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1884, although it is believed to have been sung in Dublin for many years prior. The song’s lyrics tell the story of Molly Malone, who wheeled her wheelbarrow through the streets of Dublin, selling seafood and providing nighttime companionship. Molly’s life was cut tragically short when she succumbed to a fever, and her ghost is said to still haunt the streets of Dublin today.
Molly Malone Lyrics
In Dublin's fair city Where the girls are so pretty I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone As she wheeled her wheelbarrow Through streets broad and narrow Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!" Alive, alive, oh Alive, alive, oh Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh" She was a fishmonger And sure 'twas no wonder For so were her father and mother before And they both wheeled their barrows Through streets broad and narrow Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh" Alive, alive, oh Alive, alive, oh Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh" She died of a fever And no one could save her And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone But her ghost wheels her barrow Through streets broad and narrow Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh" Alive, alive, oh Alive, alive, oh Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"
Historical Accounts and Debates
Many have attempted to uncover the real Molly Malone, searching through historical records for any evidence of her existence. Some have claimed that Malone was a real person who lived in the 17th century, while others believe she was entirely fictional. Although several individuals named Molly or Mary Malone have appeared in historical records, no definitive link to the song’s character has been established.
The Statue of Molly Malone
Despite the uncertainty surrounding her existence, the city of Dublin has honored Molly Malone with a bronze statue. Designed by sculptor Jeanne Rynhart and unveiled during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations, the statue depicts Molly pushing her wheelbarrow, dressed in a low-cut 17th-century dress. The statue has become a popular tourist attraction and is affectionately referred to as “The Tart with the Cart” or “The Dish with the Fish” by locals.
The Molly Malone statue is located on Suffolk Street, near the old city center of Dublin. It was initially placed at the bottom of Grafton Street before being moved to its current location in 2014 due to construction work on the Luas Cross City tram system.