The Ballad of Molly Malone is a popular Irish song sung in pubs around the world and especially in Dublin. It tells of young Molly, a poor fishmonger, selling her wares of cockles and mussells from her pushcart. We’re featuring an adaptation of that song as the title piece for the Wild Musette Journal #1701.
Writer Shannon Connor Winward drew on the popular song to create her own, much darker, version. In the original, as in many good Irish ballads, the hero dies, though we don’t know the circumstances. Winward follows up on Poe’s theme of being being buried alive to give new meaning to the song’s refrain of “Alive, Alive-Oh!”
We asked about her inspiration for the piece.
“‘The Ballad of Molly Malone’ was inspired by a friend’s poetry challenge to write a speculative poem on the theme of music,” she writes. “I’d never written a ballad before, but it seemed a natural choice for the form, and the legend of Molly Malone appealed to me as a fan of both Irish mythology and ghost stories. I wanted to do something other than just reiterate the tale, though, hence the horrific element of being buried alive. I was also enamoured by the idea that spirits hunger for the sounds, the music of life (which I tried to weave throughout the poem), and the notion that a person possessed with particular vitality and musical talent could overcome the silence of death.”
Winward has not set the piece to music but structured it to be sung to the traditional tune. Perhaps some of our musically-inclined readers will give that a try and share the results here.