Can Irish People Speak Irish?

The Story of Molly Malone

Posted by Staff Writer on

The Story of Molly Malone

( Selling fish during the day, prostitute by night )

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!"

These must be some of the best known lyrics, heard in every Irish bar but who was Molly Malone and what is her story?

Widely recognized as Dublin’s unofficial anthem is the famous song in which Molly Malone in the beautiful heroine,

Molly Malone was  Immortalised in bronze during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations and the Molly Malone statue stands in the heart of the city’s historic Georgian Quarter.  


According to Wikipedia there is no evidence that the song is based on a real woman in the 17th century or any other time. The name "Molly" originated as a familiar version of the names Mary and Margaret. Many such "Molly" Malones were born in Dublin over the centuries, but no evidence connects any of them to the events in the song.

 Nevertheless, the Dublin Millennium Commission in 1988 endorsed claims made for a Mary Malone who died on 13 June 1699, and proclaimed 13 June to be "Molly Malone Day".

The song is not recorded earlier than 1876, when it was published in Boston, Massachusetts.Its placement in the section of the book titled "Songs from English and German Universities" suggests an Irish origin.

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, but no copies of it have been found.

According to Siobhán Marie Kilfeather, the song is from the music hall style of the period, and one cannot wholly dismiss the possibility that it is "based on an older folk song", but "neither melody nor words bear any relationship to the Irish tradition of street ballads". She calls the story of the historical Molly "nonsense". 

A variant, "Cockles and Mussels", with some different lyrics, appeared in Students' Songs: Comprising the Newest and Most Popular College Songs As Now Sung at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, ... Union, Etc in 1884.


Here is a beautiful version of the famous song.

Sinead O’Connor - Molly Malone

Now you can own a piece of this history and hang it on your own wall

With this: 

Molly Malone Statue, Dublin, Ireland - Horizontal Framed Premium Gallery Wrap Canvas


Twin Baby Irish Dance ( How cute is this?)


1 comment

  • Lovely

    Emmanuel Peter Ejetavwo on

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