Sweet Molly Malone
The song Molly Malone is not just the 'anthem' of Dublin and the
city's sports supporters. It has become famous throughout the world.
It tells of a Dublin long gone, when street vendors plied their
trade from a barrow having collected their produce from the early
In Molly's case (had she lived) she would have selected her
cockles and mussels from the bounty landed at the city's quayside each
morning, placed them in baskets on her barrow, and set off on her
She would probably have followed specific routes on certain days, and
her customers would have listened out for the calls that announced her
arrival in their locality.
There is no evidence to suggest that Molly was a real person.
Countless people, including academics and genealogists, have tried to
find proof of her existence.
None has been found.
Her bronze statue was created by sculptor Jeanne Rynhart of
Glengarrif, Co Cork, whose work includes the equally famous statue on
Cobh quayside depicting Annie Moore and her two brothers setting sail
Molly on the move
Having been located at
the busy junction of Nassau Street, Suffolk Street and the
pedestrianised shopping mecca of Grafton Street since 1988, Molly found
herself in the way of a new cross-river tram (luas) route and, in April 2014,
she had to pack up her barrow.
The opportunity was taken to give her some tender loving care from
specialist bronze restorers and on Friday 18 July 2014 she wheeled her wares
into a new temporary spot (see above) outside the city's Tourist Office
in St Andrew's Church, Suffolk Street, about 150 yards away from her old
She's still there after more than four years, and is supposed to become a permanent residence of Grafton Street in 2019.
Hunting for Molly in 1901
There's no evidence that Molly was anything other than a figment of the songwriter's imagination.
But just for a bit of harmless fun, I
took a rummage in the 1901 census (this is the oldest surviving complete
Irish census) and found two Molly Malones listed.
Neither of these two girls lived
in Dublin. One is from rural county Clare, the other from the city of
Nor is there any hint that either is the daughter of a
fish-monger. The first girl is the second daughter of a Grocer. The
other girl is a visitor to the household of a labouring family.
Of course, it's perfectly possible that 'our' Molly Malone had already succumbed to her fever by 1901...