Sweet Molly Malone

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X:1 T:Sweet Molly Malone T:Molly Malone [2] M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air Q:"Moderate" S:O’Neill – Music of Ireland (1903), No. 483 Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G D2|G2G2G2|GB3G2|A2A2A2|Ac3 c2|B2d2d2| d2B2G2|F2A2A2|A4D2|G3G G2|GB3G| A2A2A2|Ac3 A2|Bd3 G2|Bd3 F2|A3G G2|G4||

SWEET MOLLY MALONE (Maire Maiseac Ni Maeleoin). AKA "Cockles and Mussels," "Molly Malone (2)." Irish, Air (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (O’Neill): AB (Tubridy). "Sweet Molly Malone" is a well-known song that has its origins in street balladry, popularized on the Music Hall stage. The words are credited in one old publication to a Martin Corrigan, by what authority is not known, but are most often simply said to be anonymous. Sean Murphy explored the song in his 1992 booklet "The Mystery of Molly Malone” (Divelina Publications, ISBN 0 9512611 2 6), and found that it was actually written by Scottish-based James Yorkston and first published in Edinburgh in 1884 as "Cockles and Mussels". The song has been associated with Dublin for many years, and has become almost an anthem of the city; likewise, as Paul de Grae points out, Molly Malone has become a readily "recognized brand name in the international marketing of Irish pubs etc."[1] The words begin:

In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty

A somewhat similar melody was used by Mozart for the last movement of his Piano Concerto no. 22 in E Flat, K.482, composed at a time when Mozart was often in the company of the Dublin-born operatic tenor Michael Kelly. The connection with “Molly Malone,” if any, is not known.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 483, p. 84. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, vol. 1), 1999; p. 1.

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  1. Paul de Grae, “Notes on Sources of Tunes in the O’Neill Collections”, 2017 [1].