Dublin’s Fair City
“Molly Malone” (also known as “Cockles and Mussels” or “In Dublin’s Fair City”) is a popular song set in Dublin, Ireland, which has become its unofficial anthem.
Who was Molly?
It is unclear whether this song is based on a real woman. Molly was a popular name in Ireland in the past, derived from the names Margaret or Mary. The song is about a hawker who sells fish from her barrow whilst walking through the streets of Dublin.
Hard Times in Ireland
In times of hardship shell fish was a useful source of income, having being picked off the beaches. Molly shouts “cockles and mussels, alive alive, oh!” meaning they are fresh…I hope they were!
In Dublin’s fair cityAn Irish folk song
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!”
Historians suggest that the song was written by James Yorkston and sung in Victorian concert halls in order to mock or ridicule the Irish.
Over the years, however, Molly Malone has become a figure of Irish folklore and the statue (seen above) is a must for tourists. Her ‘revealing’ dress may add to the belief that she resorted to other means of income, hence the the nickname “the tart with the cart”!
Whilst we were there a number visitors rubbed her breast, which seemed a little strange to say the least, but apparently it’s supposed to bring you luck. Maybe that’s what they mean by “the luck of the Irish”?
Molly Malone Day
At the unveiling of the statue in 1988, 13th June was declared Molly Malone Day.
Some say that her ghost can be seen wandering through the streets of Dublin. If you are ever in Ireland’s capital at night-time, remember to keep your ears open and your eyes peeled. You never know!
I would recommend you listen to the nerve-tingling version sung by The Dubliners on YouTube. a truly moving rendition .