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The Bear & the Strawberry Tree, by Antonio Navarro Santafe Apennine Colossus, by Giambologna
Molly-Malone, by Jeanne Rynhart - Scintillating Sculptures
222    Dibyendu Banerjee    12/05/2024

Located on Grafton Street, one of the two principal shopping streets in Dublin city centre and close to the Trinity College, the bronze sculpture representing Molly Malone, a young woman, fashioned in her traditional 17th century dress, selling sea food such as Mussels, on the street, was created by the Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart, whose design of the statue was selected by the Dublin Millennium Board from a number of other entries. The sculpture was unveiled by Alderman Ben Briscoe, the then Lord Mayor of Dublin, during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations, who also declared 13 June as the Molly Malone Day, on the occasion.

Often called the tart with the cart, the statue portrays Molly as a busty young woman in her low-cut dress and although the statue created controversy at the time of its unveiling for its revealing dress, Jeanne Patricia Rynhart, the creator of the statue, wrote in The Irish Times that the clothing and appearance were accurate for women of that era. Strangely, it is believed by the locals that touching the breasts of the statue brings good luck, and even today, the tradition Is religiously maintained by the locals and the visitors alike, making the breasts evidently polished and shiny. Nevertheless, Molly Malone is a figure from Irish folklore who became one of the most well-known symbols of Dublin. Local legend says, she was a beautiful young girl who worked as a fishmonger in the city, until she died suddenly of a fever, and after her death, her ghost began haunting the streets of Dublin.

Although there is no documentary evidence about the truth behind the folklore about Molly, she has become one of the most well-known symbols of Dublin. The legend about her is known far beyond the borders of Dublin and has gained international fame through the Irish folk song Cockles and Mussels, which many refer to it as the unofficial anthem of Dublin. The song, depicting the story of a fictional fishmonger named Molly Malone who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin and suddenly died of a fever at a young age, has been adapted and even performed by many artists over the years. The song’s theme of love and loss, often accompanied by a sad melodious tune, captures the lively and spirited atmosphere of street life in the city, ensuring that Molly Malone remains a beloved figure in the traditional and cultural life of Dublin. The song about Molly was first published in the USA in 1883 and is attributed to the Scottish composer James Yorkston. However, it is still popular today, because it captures the spirit of Dublin, depicting the story of a working-class woman who dies young, but lives on indefinitely through lively cultural traditions.

Although the legend typically represented Molly as a hawker selling seafood by day and a part-time prostitute, selling her body by night due to poverty, but in contrast, she has also been portrayed as one of the few unblemished and chaste street-hawkers of her day. Her name Molly could be originated as a familiar and traditional version of the name Mary and Margaret and several such Molly Malones were born in Dublin over the centuries, but there is no evidence connecting her to the events in the song. Nevertheless, today, Molly Malone day is celebrated every year in Dublin on the 13th June with her iconic song, along with a parade, live music, and street performers.

The statue of Molly Malone was relocated to Suffolk Street, in front of the Tourist Information Office on 18 July 2014, to make way for Luas City Works to complete the city project, involving the filling in of the cellars under the route and the clearing and diverting of underground gas and water pipes and electricity and internet cables.

The Bear & the Strawberry Tree, by Antonio Navarro Santafe Apennine Colossus, by Giambologna
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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