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The timeless tragedy of Molly Malone


Not many songs can boast international recognition of being so deeply and fondly Irish the way Molly Malone does. Also known as Cockles and Mussels or In Dublin's Fair City, the ballad—now the unofficial anthem of Dublin—tells the story of a fishmonger named Molly who dies of a fever, but her ghost still wheels the barrow with the wares through the streets.


There have been many attempts to prove that Molly was a genuine historical figure, but everything points to her being merely an urban legend. Though the song itself is considered by many to be an old Irish folk tune, there is no evidence that it existed prior to the 19th century, or that it’s based on a real woman, of the 17th century or any other time.


According to historian Siobhán Marie Kilfeather, Molly Malone could have as well been based on an older folk song, but neither melody nor words share anything with the Irish tradition of street ballads.

The song belongs to the music hall style—the type of entertainment that originated in public saloon bars during the 1830s and rose to massive popularity in 1850s, spanning throughout the Victorian era and dying out before World War I.


The earliest version of Cockles and Mussels complete with music was published in 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts, in a collection of college songs.


Read more on MusicTales.club

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  • Noob

Really interesting the concept of Molly Malone. I Google it and also read out on Wikipedia and feel the reality of the story.  

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