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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Valerie Flynn/The Journal
# cockles and mussels
'Please don't' message painted on Molly Malone statue - but tourists undeterred
The bronze statue on Dublin’s Suffolk Street was vandalised in an apparent protest against tourists grabbing the fictional fishmongers’ breasts.

THE BRONZE STATUE of Molly Malone in Dublin city centre has been vandalised with green paint, just weeks after being cleaned following a similar incident. 

Dublin City Council has arranged for repairs, which will be carried out over the next few days. The council has said it “will liaise with An Garda Síochána regarding this matter”.

The words “Please don’t T.Y.” were painted across the fictional fishmonger’s chest, in an apparent message to snap-happy tourists. “T.Y.” is an abbreviation of thank you. 

Posing while grabbing the Suffolk Street statue’s “lucky” breasts has become a popular photo opportunity in recent years.

The tourist trend has been criticised, including by Dublin singer Imelda May, who has spoken out against “groping” the statue, which she said sends a message of objectification of women.

May wrote on Instagram when the statue was last graffitied: “Whoever ‘vandalised’ Molly is speaking up for all of us. Stand with us in saying Hands Off!!!”

At lunchtime on Monday, a steady stream of tourists was arriving at the statue, with many visitors rubbing the statue’s breasts. Several groups were dropped off by taxi, with between 10 and 20 tourists waiting for their turn to take a photo at any given time.

IMG-0268 Valerie Flynn / The Journal The Molly Malone Statue in Dublin city centre on Monday. Valerie Flynn / The Journal / The Journal

Some tourists were heckled by a Dublin man walking by who shouted “don’t do it – seven years bad luck”. 

One couple from Malaga in Spain said they wanted to visit the statue because they had learned “on the internet” that rubbing Molly Malone’s breasts meant you were guaranteed to return to Dublin. 

A couple and their three grown-up children from Indianapolis in the United States said rubbing Molly’s breasts would bring them 100 years of good luck. They heard this “in a documentary on Youtube”. One of the women said she thought the green paint was “disrespectful”.

‘Molly Malone’ by Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart was erected at the northern end of Grafton Street in 1988. It was moved around the corner to Suffolk Street a decade ago to make way for the Luas.

Social Democrats Councillor Cat O’Driscoll, chair of Dublin city council’s Arts, Culture, Leisure and Recreation Strategic Policy Committee, said that the statue has been damaged not only by being daubed with paint but by being repeatedly handled by tourists, with its black coating rubbed off in places.

O’Driscoll noted that there were very few  statues of women in Dublin.

She added that the few statues there are – including the bronze of revolutionary and politician Countess Markievicz on Townsend Street and the Anna Livia monument better known to Dubliners as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi – are “at street level”.

“You can’t get up to Daniel O’Connell. The men are on pedestals and the women are at a level where they can be abused,” O’Driscoll said.

O’Driscoll said she hopes this imbalance will be somewhat corrected when a planned monument to Countess Markievicz and the women of the revolutionary decade is commissioned, with a prominent site on O’Connell Street under consideration. 

O’Driscoll added that she believed educating the public was preferable to erecting barriers, as some have called for to protect Molly Malone.

Dublin City Council said: “It is regrettable that this much loved Dublin landmark has been vandalised again.”

“There are no plans to either move or restrict access to the Molly Malone sculpture,” the council said.

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