Cuckles and Mussels

Cockles and Mussels (1) (Traditional)

From "A Song-book of Folk and Pop Music" by Mario Papa & Giuliano Iantorno, Zanichelli Editore, 1977


In Dublin's fair city

Where the girls are so pretty,

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, " Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o!



Alive, alive-o! Alive, alive-o!

Crying, "Cockles and mussels,

Alive, alive-o"


She was a fishmonger.

But sure 'twas no wonder,

For so were her father and mother before,

And they each wheeled their barrow

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, " Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o!”,,


Chorus: Alive, alive-o! etc.


She died of a fever,

And no one could save her,

And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone,

But her ghost wheels her barrow,

through streets broad and narrow

Crying, " Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o!”


Chorus: Alive, alive-o! etc.

(1) A well known Irish folk song. It is a plain story about a girl who sold sea-food in Dublin. The simplicity of the words and the sweetness of the melody, which are the features of this song, reflect the character of the Irish people who are warm-hearted, friendly and melancholy. The song is in English, but we know that in Ireland two languages are spoken: Gaelic and English. Gaelic, the old language of the Celts, is spoken mainly among old people in very restricted areas to the west and south-west of Ireland. De Valera, President of Eire, now dead, introduced Irish into Elementary Schools as the only language in which all subjects had to be taught, with the result that children so hated the language that they forgot it as soon as they left school. English is spoken everywhere in Ireland now, but when spoken by the Irish it is softened by a strong ‘brogue’ or tipically Irish accent.


Dublin and the Irish free state

Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and has a population, today, of about 600,000. It was probably founded by the Vikings in the 800s and was later called Dublin, from the Gaelic words ‘dubh’ meaning dark, and ‘linn’, meaning pool. This name refers to the dark waters of the river Liffey which flows into the Irish Sea. Dublin stands at the mouth of this river in a semi-circle round the lovely Dublin Bay and it is the largest port of the Republic, drawing its exports from the whole Republic and being the largest collecting and distributing centre. In the city is the world's largest brewery, Guinness, and its other industries include the manufacture of poplin and linen, biscuits and machinery and there are shipyards, flourmills, railway yards and engineering shops. Dublin is full of buildings and places of interest. In O'Connel Street, one of the most beautiful streets in Europe, there is the General Post Office building which was the rebels' headquarters at the time of the 1916 Easter Rising. It was here that Patrick Pearse, a poet, barrister, teacher and chosen president of the provisional Republican Government, and James Connolly, founder of Irish Soc ialism and a trade union leader, tried, during the week the rising lasted, to control and direct that idealist insurrection. Then the British troops came, and the guns. 450 Irish and 100 British died, the leaders of the insurrection surrended and 13 people were executed, including Pearse and Connolly. But during 1919 to 1921, the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) waged war on the British Government. This war ended by the treaty of 1921, which divided Ireland into the Irish Free State (Eire in Gaelic) and Northern Ireland.