1699 – Molly Malone reputedly dies of the fever.

The famous song, “Sweet Molly Malone” is a tribute to the memory of a real person who was a fishwife selling cockles and mussels in the streets of Dublin. In popular Dublin parlance, she’s referred to as “The Tart with the Cart and “The Dish with the Fish”.

Molly had wheeled her wheel barrow from the Liberties to the more fashionable Grafton Street, crying ‘Cockles and Mussels’ as she went. At nights another and less admirable Molly appeared, as her chemise, basque and zapotas were replaced by an even more revealing dress, fish-net tights and stilettos. Thus provocatively attired, she sallied forth looking for clients, who tended to include students of Trinity College, a place renowned for its debauchery. Yet, we reflect, in all probability Molly was more sinned against than sinning.

During Dublin’s Millennium in 1988, which was held to celebrate the discovery by historical experts that the city had been founded 1,000 years before, it was decided to erect a statue of Molly. This monument stands appropriately enough at the end of Grafton Street, around the corner from St Andrew’s Church where she was baptised, and in an area where she plied her trades. On 18 July 2014, the statue of her in seventeenth-century dress, by Jeanne Rynhart, was temporarily placed outside the Dublin Tourist Office on Suffolk Street. It is expected to be returned to its original location in late 2017. Due to the increase in touristy foot traffic, and their penchant for being “handsy”, the statue’s cleavage has been groped repeatedly recently. Enough so that its bronze hue has begun to wear off on the bosom. A thought occurred on the 300th anniversary of her death in 1999: what better way to commemorate her than by declaring 13 June to be International Molly Malone Day, accompanied by a Molly Malone Summer School.

MollyMalone

Advertisements

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.

One thought on “1699 – Molly Malone reputedly dies of the fever.

Comments are closed.