Dublin's Molly Malone gets a makeover

Famous Dublin statue restored before return to streets

The statue of legendary Dublin fishmonger Molly Malone will soon return to the streets following a two-month restoration programme costing an estimated €50,000.

The much-photographed statue was removed from the bottom of Grafton Street at the end of April to facilitate construction of the cross-city Luas tramline, known as the BXD, which will connect the existing Green and Red lines and be operational by 2017.

The bronze monument was installed to mark Dublin's millennium celebrations in 1988 and since then has suffered considerable wear and tear. This is largely thanks to its position at street level and dealing with the interaction of hundreds of visitors each day.

Designed by Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart, the statue comprises 30 separate pieces welded together. When workers removed the statue they discovered significant cracks between the pieces as well as underneath. The fingers of one hand were in particularly bad shape.

The monument is currently being rewelded, patinated and treated with a water-resistant wax. It will also receive a new granite base, replacing the original stone platform which had also become damaged.

When the statue returns to the public by the end of July, it will be placed in a temporary location outside the tourist office in the former St Andrew’s Church around the corner on Suffolk Street. It will remain there until the completion of the Luas works in 2017 when it will be relocated at the end of Grafton Street, slightly north of its original location opposite Trinity College.

Popularised in a well-known Dublin ballad, the statue of the buxom young fishmonger is dressed in a 17th-century dress and pushing a wheelbarrow. It is known colloquially by various names such as "The Tart with the Cart", “The dolley with the trolley” and “The trollop with the scallops”.

There is no concrete evidence of the actual existence of Malone – often portrayed as a fishmonger by day and prostitute by night. Despite this, the Dublin Millennium Commission endorsed claims in 1988 concerning a certain Mary "Molly" Malone who died on 13 June 1699, and proclaimed 13 June as "Molly Malone Day". 

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