The Info List - Molly Malone

"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 the unofficial anthem of Dublin. The Molly Malone
Molly Malone
statue in Grafton Street
Grafton Street
was unveiled by then-Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Ben Briscoe during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations, declaring 13 June as Molly Malone
Molly Malone
Day. The statue was presented to the city by Jury's Hotel Group to mark the Millennium. Since 18 July 2014, it has been relocated to Suffolk Street, in front of the Tourist Information Office, to make way for Luas
track-laying work to be completed at the old location. Due to the increase in tourist foot traffic, and a common penchant for being "handsy", the statue has been groped often enough that the bronze hue has begun to wear off on the bosom.

Statue of Molly Malone
Molly Malone
and her cart on Suffolk Street, Dublin.


1 History 2 Lyrics

2.1 "Molly Malone" in Apollo's Medley (1791)

3 Statue 4 In popular culture

4.1 Parodies 4.2 Sporting anthem

5 Recordings 6 See also 7 References 8 External links


Full statue of Molly Malone
Molly Malone
and her cart on Grafton Street, Dublin.

The song tells the fictional tale of a fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin, but who died young, of a fever. In the late 20th century a legend grew up that there was a historical Molly, who lived in the 17th century. She is typically represented as a hawker by day and part-time prostitute by night.[1] In contrast she has also been portrayed as one of the few chaste female street-hawkers of her day. There is no evidence that the song is based on a real woman, of the 17th century or at any other time. The name "Molly" originated as a familiar version of the names Mary and Margaret. While many such "Molly" Malones were born in Dublin
over the centuries, no evidence connects any of them to the events in the song.[1][2] Nevertheless, in 1988 the Dublin
Millennium Commission endorsed claims about a Mary Malone who died on 13 June 1699, and proclaimed 13 June to be "Molly Malone day".[1] The song is not recorded earlier than 1876, when it was published in Boston, Massachusetts.[3] The song's placement in the section of the book entitled "Songs from English and German Universities" suggests a British origin.[4] It was also published by Francis Brothers and Day in London in 1884 as a work written and composed by James Yorkston, of Edinburgh, with music arranged by Edmund Forman. The London edition states that it was reprinted by permission of Kohler and Son of Edinburgh, implying that the first edition was in Scotland, though no copies of it have been located.[5] According to Siobhán Marie Kilfeather the song is from the music hall style of the period, and while one cannot wholly dismiss the possibility that it is "based on an older folk song", "neither melody nor words bear any relationship to the Irish tradition of street ballads." She describes the story of the historical Molly as "nonsense". The song is in a familiar tragi-comic mode popular in this period, probably influenced by earlier songs with a similar theme, such as Percy Montrose's "My Darling Clementine", which was written in about 1880. A copy of Apollo's Medley, dating to around 1790, published in Doncaster
and rediscovered in 2010, contains a song referring to "Sweet Molly Malone" on its page 78 – this ends with the line "Och! I'll roar and I'll groan, My sweet Molly Malone, Till I'm bone of your bone, And asleep in your bed." Other than this name and the fact that she lives in Howth
near Dublin, this song bears no other resemblance to the familiar Molly Malone.[6] The song was later reprinted in a collection entitled The Shamrock: A Collection of Irish Songs (1831) and was published in The Edinburgh Literary Journal that year with the title "Molly Malone".[7] Several elements of the song Molly Malone
Molly Malone
appear in several earlier songs. In addition to the earlier "Molly Malone" song discussed above, a character named "Molly Malone" appears in at least two other songs. The song, "Widow Malone," published as early as 1809, refers to the title character alternately as "Molly Malone," "Mary Malone" and "sweet mistress Malone".[4] An American song entitled "Meet Me Miss Molly Malone" was published as early as 1840.[4] The song, "Pat Corney's Account of Himself", published as early as 1826,[8] begins with "Now it's show me that city where the girls are so pretty" and ends with "Crying oysters, and cockles, and Mussels for sale."[4] During the 1800s, the expression "Dublin's fair city" was used regularly with reference to Dublin, and the phrase, "alive, alive O", is known to have been shouted by street vendors selling oysters, mussels, fish and eels.[4] Lyrics[edit]

In Dublin's fair city, Where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone, As she wheeled her wheel-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".

She was a fishmonger, But sure 'twas no wonder, For so were her father and mother before, And they wheeled their barrows, Through the streets broad and narrow, 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!"


"Molly Malone" in Apollo's Medley (1791)[edit]

By the big Hill of Howth, That's a bit of an Oath, That to swear by I'm loth, To the heart of a stone, But be poison my drink, If I sleep snore or wink, Once forgetting to think, Of your lying alone,

Och it's how I'm in love, Like a beautiful dove, That sits cooing above, In the boughs of a tree; It's myself I'll soon smother, In something or other, Unless I can bother, Your heart to love me, Sweet Molly, Sweet Molly Malone, Sweet Molly, Sweet Molly Malone

I can see if you smile, Though I'm off half a mile, For my eyes all the while, Keep along with my head, And my head on must know, When from Molly I go, Takes his leave with a bow, And remains in my stead,


Like a bird I could sing, In the month of the spring, But it's now no such thing, I'm quite bothered and dead, Och I'll roar and I'll groan, My sweet Molly Malone, Till I'm bone of your bone, And asleep in your bed


Statue[edit] Molly is commemorated in a statue designed by Jeanne Rynhart, erected to celebrate the city's first millennium in 1988. Originally placed at the bottom of Grafton Street
Grafton Street
in Dublin, this statue is known colloquially as "The Tart with the Cart" or "The Trollop With The Scallop(s)", . The statue portrays Molly as a busty young woman in seventeenth-century dress. Her low-cut dress and large breasts were justified on the grounds that as "women breastfed publicly in Molly's time, breasts were popped out all over the place."[2] The statue was later removed and kept in storage to make way for the new Luas
tracks. On 18 July 2014, It was temporarily placed outside the Dublin
Tourist Office on Suffolk Street. It is expected to be returned to its original location in late 2017.[11] As of 29 Jan 2018 it remains on Suffolk Street. In popular culture[edit]

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The first part of the song is sung by actress Marie McDonald
Marie McDonald
in the 1944 movie Guest in the House. Her character arrives home rather drunk, carrying a basketful of live mussels from the nearby beach. Some seconds later she echoes her equally tipsy companion's lines while keeping the melody. The song is featured in The Premature Burial, a 1962 film by Roger Corman, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. Within the diegesis, the melody sets off a nervous reaction in the protagonist, who associates it with the horror of being buried alive. The melody also recurs throughout the film's incidental music. The song was also featured in the movie A Clockwork Orange. Pieces of the song also appear in the 1945 movie A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and are quoted in the book of the same title by Betty Smith. The song was sung on M*A*S*H (Season 10) episode "That's Show Biz". The song was sung by Maisey McGinty on Wind at My Back. The song was also sung in the Terence Davies film adaptation The Deep Blue Sea. A variation of the song is usually sung just after kick-off by fans of Doncaster Rovers Football Club. Parodies[edit] Londoners adapt the song for their own needs often in a light vein, the major change being the lines:

As she wheeled her wheel-barrow, Through Wealdstone
and Harrow (pronounced Arra in this instance)

An altered first verse of the song is usually sung by supporters of Bohemian FC
Bohemian FC
in Dublin. The changes being:

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 (clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap) Bohs (pronunciation / bo-iz /)

A similar version of the Bohemian FC
Bohemian FC
chant is also sung by Gillingham (Kent) Football Club supporters, replacing the last line with

Singing (clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap) The Gills! (pronunciation / Jills /)

It is one of the chants that Doncaster
Rovers fans have used since the early 1970s, the last line being

Singing (clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap)(clap) Rovers!

It is always sung at the lunches and dinners of London's '07 Club, which was founded in 1907 by staff of the London County Council. Singer Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman
also did a parody of the tune in the medley "Shticks of One and a Half a Dozen of the Other" which appeared on the album My Son, the Celebrity. In his version Molly has trouble with her wheelbarrow because she is very overweight. Sporting anthem[edit]

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'Molly Malone' is best associated with the Dublin
GAA teams and Bohemian F.C., an association football club who are based on the north side of the city. In the 2000s the song was adopted by Leinster Rugby and it has become their Anthem. The song is also sung by supporters of Columbus Crew, Portsmouth F.C, Plymouth Argyle, Doncaster
Rovers, Gillingham and the Irish Rugby Team. The song is sung each year at the Start of the Women's Mini-Marathon in Dublin
on Bank Holiday Monday in June, where 50,000 women run through the streets of Dublin. The song is also sung at the start of the women's race at the Liffey Swim. The event usually takes place on the first or second Saturday in September and is over 2.5 kilometres long. Swimmers don't wear wetsuits and the event works on a handicap time system. Reading F.C.
Reading F.C.
supporters sing the song, though adapting the end line of the first verse with a crescendo chant of "Reading".[12] Previously, the fans had adapted the song, changing the name of Molly Malone
Molly Malone
to Kylie Minogue, and replacing the last line with "Singing" followed by the hook line of one of Minogue's hit songs. Initially I Should Be So Lucky was used, but in recent years this has fallen out of fashion as the singer is not as prominent amongst the charts. King's Scholars Rugby Football Club, of Stranmillis University College, Belfast, adopted the song as their official anthem in the 1930s. The team chant the song in their post-match huddle at the end of every game, with the change of the lyrics 'cockles and muscles, alive, alive oh!' to 'Scholars! Scholars! Scholars!' Recordings[edit] English: Artists who have recorded versions of Molly Malone
Molly Malone
include Heino, U2, The Saturdays, Danny Kaye, Pete Seeger, Alfred Deller, The Limeliters, Frank Harte, Sinéad O'Connor, Johnny Logan, Ian McCulloch, Paul Harrington, Damien Leith
Damien Leith
and Burl Ives. The best-known version is by The Dubliners.[13] Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
and Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney
recorded an updated version of the song titled "The Daughter of Molly Malone" on their album That Travelin' Two-Beat (1965). Crosby also sang the song on the album A Little Bit of Irish recorded in 1966. Operatic baritone Bryn Terfel
Bryn Terfel
has recorded a highly operatic version of the tune, sung in a somewhat upbeat fashion. Other languages:

Russian:Душа моя, Молли (Du'sha moya, Molly – "Molly, my soul") (Russian Celtic folk rock band Tintal). Molly sold trout rather than "cockles and mussels" and died of tuberculosis. French: Renaud Dutch: "kokkels en mossels" by Ancora, a Dutch folk band that plays a lot of sea-related songs

See also[edit]

Statues in Dublin Roud Folk Song Index
Roud Folk Song Index


^ a b c Siobhán Marie Kilfeather, Dublin: a cultural history, Oxford University Press US, 2005, p. 6. ^ a b Irish Historical Mysteries: Molly Malone ^ Waite, Henry Randall (1876). Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges, with Selections from the Student Songs of the English and German Universitys. Ditson. p. 73.  ^ a b c d e Brown, Peter Jensen. "Molly Malone, Molly Mogg and a Missing Link – the Fishy History and Origins of "Cockles and Mussels"". Early Sports 'n' Pop-Culture History Blog.  ^ "Cockles and Mussels (Molly Malone)". Folkinfo.org (quoting book by Sean Murphy). 2002. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2007.  ^ Maev Kennedy (18 July 2010). "Tart with a cart? Older song shows Dublin's Molly Malone
Molly Malone
in new light". The Guardian.  ^ Review in The Edinburgh literary journal ^ The Universal Songster: or, Museum of Mirth. London: John Fairburn. 1826. p. 19.  ^ James Yorkston (1998). " Molly Malone
Molly Malone
lyrics". Retrieved 6 October 2008.  ^ "The Edinburgh Literary Journal: Or, Weekly Register of Criticism and Belles Lettres, Volume 5". 1831. p. 350. Retrieved 31 March 2015.  ^ Flaherty, Rachel (1 May 2014). " Molly Malone
Molly Malone
statue wheeled away to make way for Luas". The Irish Times.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ http://fanchants.co.uk/football-songs/reading-chants/molly-malone2/ Retrieved 16 January 2017. ^ "The Dubliners: Discography – Live 40 Years Reunion". itsthedubliners.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017. 

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