Monday 26 September 2016

Terry Prone: Molly Malone is a northsider, so let's battle to bring her over the Liffey

Published 19/07/2013 | 11:30

The Molly Malone Statue. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The Molly Malone Statue. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

LAYING down the new Luas line is going to create traffic jams, route diversions – and moving statues.

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Two of the latter have to be uprooted to let the line come through: Fr Matthew and Molly Malone.

Now, let's be honest. Fr Matthew is an important part of Ireland's ongoing struggle with drink, but the one we're actually going to miss is Molly. It looks like she'll be gone for about two years.

When she comes back she should be put on the Northside, where she truly belongs. Us Northsiders have always instinctively known that she was one of us, but now, we have the evidence to justify our claim for her to be brought north of the river.



City council officials don't agree and this week it emerged that they've rejected a plan to take Molly across the river. We need a campaign. Now. All Northsiders need to battle this and force the Council to change their decision.

Up to recently, it was believed that the first time Molly's song was sung was towards the end of the nineteenth century. Then, more recently, a book was discovered that had been printed nearly a century earlier, with Molly Malone nestling between its covers. That Molly came from Howth, which would make a lot of sense as a town of origin for a fishmonger, since Howth has been a fishing village since Viking times.

Except that we have to admit Ms Malone may not have been just a fishmonger. Or maybe she was a fishmonger during the day and supplemented her income in other ways at night.

No, I'm not referring to the way the statue has her dressed, which advertises her boobs in a way that would cause a wardrobe malfunction if they weren't cast in bronze.

The eighteenth century book has lyrics that don't waste time on streets broad and narrow, or wheelbarrows or cockles and mussels. Instead, the singer sees Molly in a quite different place.

"I'll roar and I'll moan, my sweet Molly Malone, till I'm bone of your bone and asleep in your bed."

Those are the words of the original song, and we're clearly not talking about a fish supper, here. Somebody came along later on and decided to clean up Molly's act by giving her a different career flogging fish, and it's in that guise she became part of Dublin's traditions. But you have only to look at her statue to know that this was a girl who was overdressed for marketing mackerel.

That's if she existed in the first place, which nobody can prove, one way or the other.

Whether she was mythological or real, a fishmonger, a tart or a double-jobber, the single certainty is that standing opposite Trinity College at the end of Grafton Street has not suited her.



This was a girl who would have felt out of place in such posh surroundings. She was handy to sit beside if you were waiting to meet someone or having a quick take-away sandwich, but she doesn't really belonged there.

This is the time for Northsiders to unite in a campaign to get her back among her real friends. The suggestion the Council shot down was to move her to Moore Street, and it's one that has much merit.

Let's face it, what other part of our capital city has such a tradition of street selling? She'd feel and look right at home there.

If Southsiders want to get shirty about losing her, let's do a swap. They can take the bloody Spire out of O'Connell Street and stick it wherever they'd like to stick it. Us Northsiders never liked that big cold pointy load of nothing in particular. You can't climb it. You can't see out of it. Nobody in their right mind would want their picture taken anywhere near it. The Southside would be welcome to it.

But when that hard-working, mussel-selling, busty girl with the wagon-load of baskets comes out of storage in two years time, let's bring her home to where she belongs – the Northside.


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