“Molly Malone”


Singer tells of meeting sweet Molly Malone in Dublin, where she sold shellfish from a barrow; her parents were also fishmongers. She dies of a fever; now her ghost wheels the barrow. Chorus: "Singing 'Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o"


We don't have "peddler" as a keyword -- pity. Meanwhile, I believe this started out as a Tin Pan Alley song? For better or for worse, it seems to have entered tradition -- at least, at every Irish gig I've played, some drunk asks for it. - PJS

Although the Poet's Box broadside is the earliest version I've found, it can hardly be the original; incredibly badly printed (Apart from the title, it can't decide if Miss Malone is Molly or "Melly," and the chorus runs "Alive, alive, O! alive, alive O! Crying Cockles and! alive, alive, O!"), and no tune is indicated. It has to be derivative. - RBW

Cross references


  • NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(82a), "Cockles and Mussels. Aliv, O" (sic.), Poet's Box (Dundee), c. 1890


  • Pete Seeger, "Molly Malone" (on PeteSeeger32)


  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 124, "Molly Malone" (1 text)
  3. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), p. 256, "Cockles and Mussels" (1 text)
  4. Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, p. 12, "Molly Malone" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #16392
  6. BI, FSWB124B


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1947 (Hoagland; Fireside Book of Folk Songs)
Found in: US Ireland