Molly Malone – an unofficial anthem for Dublin city

Dublin has produced many fine songs but none have become as closely associated with the city as Molly Malone.

Molly Malone Fact or Folklore
Molly Malone Tourist Attraction
Molly Malone Videos
Lyrics and Chords

Many people know the song better by its opening line, In Dublin’s Fair City. The name Molly Malone’s has also been used all over the world by pubs wanting to promote an Irish image.

Cockles and Mussels

Molly Malone, Grafton Street, Dublin

Molly Malone, Grafton Street, Dublin

Just to make matters even more confusing, the song is also well known in many areas as Cockles and Mussels, the line that keeps repeating in the chorus.

For most people though, it is ‘Molly Malone’ and there are references to songs featuring that name going back more than 200 years.

The story of Molly Malone

The song tells the story of Molly’s life as a fishmonger, pushing her wheelbarrow through the streets of Dublin selling her cockles and mussels.

We are told little about her, other than she is pretty and sweet. Sadly, Molly meets a premature end because she dies of a fever, leaving her ghost to keep her memory alive by continuing her work pushing the barrow and crying cockles and mussels.

Does the Dublin song have Scottish origins?

Despite its close association with Dublin, the song is not thought to be a traditional Irish song. It’s generally attributed to the Scottish songwriter James Yorkston from Edinburgh.

He was named as the composer when the song was published in London in 1884 by Francis Brothers and Day. Whether he conceived the song purely as an original work or whether he simply adapted and claimed the credit for an existing song is unclear but he is now generally accepted as being the composer.

18th century book contains an earlier Molly Malone

In 2010, Anne Brichto of Addyman Books in Hay-on-Wye in England came across a volume called Apollo’s Medley which was published in 1790.

The book cover described it as a collection of songs that were popular “at the Theatre Royal and other places of amusement”.

Brichto was delighted to find that the book contained a song referring to Sweet Molly Malone.

Not a fishmonger but she was from the Dublin area

The Molly in this older version was said to come from “by the big hill of Howth”. This would fit in with Molly Malone being a fishmonger as Howth, which lies to the north of Dublin, was a fishing village.

Apart from the name and the location, however, there is little to link the older song with the popular version we know today. Nevertheless, it suggests there were versions of a Molly Malone song with Dublin references long before James Yorkston produced his song.

It may be that Yorkston was simply was taken by the name Molly Malone and thought it would make a good song title. The rest may be entirely his invention. We shall probably never know for certain.
More here on The search for the real Molly Malone

Molly Malone
Molly Malone Fact or Folklore
Molly Malone Tourist Attraction
Molly Malone Videos
Lyrics and Chords

Did you know?


Singing Cork barman has fans across the world - a video of the Irish music loving barman singing while he poured a pint went viral as people became enchanted by his easy going style and great voice. Check out his video.

Have you heard about…

Irish people warned about the ‘Celtic curse’ - a potentially deadly blood condition, that harms the liver, heart and pancreas, has been labelled the ‘Celtic Curse’ because more people in Ireland are prone to it than people from other countries. Find out more.

What about this…

‘Irish giant’ Tom Crean was one of the bravest and toughest explorers of the early part of the 20th century. Thanks to his positivity and faith, he managed to not only survive horrific conditions but also save the lives of his colleagues. Find out more.

Personalised framed prints

Illuminated Letters

Stunning Illuminated Letters based on the ancient Book of Kells

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.