Tourists are groping Dublin’s best known breasts. Can one woman stop them?

Move over, four-leaf clover: there's a new lucky charm in town.

Tourists are groping Dublin’s best known breasts. Can one woman stop them?
People pose for photographs with the iconic Molly Malone statue in Dublin's city centre after it was vandalised with black paint across it's front. The statue of the semi historical, semi-legendary figure is a popular tourist destination. Picture date: Wednesday August 16, 2023.
He doesn’t really look like he knows what he’s doing, does he…? (Picture: PA)

We could all do with a bit of luck every now and again.

Humans have tried to lure good fortune their way for millennia. From scarab beetles in Ancient Egypt, to lucky cats in Japan or the eternal search for four-leaved clovers in the Celtic tradition.

Those tiny green wildflowers rarely cause much of a controversy in Ireland. They’re a safer bet than another of the country’s good luck charms, at least… the cast-bronze boobs of a woman named Molly.

The statue of Molly Malone has stood in Dublin city centre for some 35 years now. While a few people scoffed at its erection in 1989, Jeanne Rynhart’s street sculpture quickly proved popular with locals and tourists. Partly because it’s a nice dedication to the fictional fishwife of the Irish capital’s unofficial anthem ‘Cockles and Mussels’. And partly because she’s got a rather low cut top on.

Tourist hanging out at the Molly Malone Statue in Dublin city centre.
Two tourists manage – somehow – to resist touching up the bronze statue (Picture: Getty Images)
Molly Malone statue is a popular tourist attraction, people having their pictures taken while touching her breasts in a low cut dress.
This person just wasn’t able to hold out against the irresistible urge to grab at one of Molly’s bronze breasts while being photographed (Picture: Getty Images)

In recent times, passersby haven’t just been gawping at Molly’s decolletage, they’ve begun rubbing away at her, supposedly ‘for good luck’ (yeah, yeah – we’ve all heard that one before).

According to The Irish Times, it seems that Molly’s heaving bosom remained largely ungroped until around 2014, when the ‘tradition’ seemed to start. Perhaps due to the encouragement of the city’s many tour guides.

For a decade now, Molly has been fondled, grabbed, petted, pinched and pawed at. Some have opposed the relatively recent rude practice, including singer and Dubliner Imelda May. She has questioned how and why ‘the only statue in the city with breasts is basically assaulted in front of our children’s eyes daily’, and puts it down to the objectification of women.

Tilly Cripwell, a busker and student at Trinity College, started a campaign last week to ‘leave Molly mAlone’.

A person poses for a photograph with the iconic Molly Malone statue in Dublin's city centre after it was vandalised with black paint across it's front. The statue of the semi historical, semi-legendary figure is a popular tourist destination. Picture date: Wednesday August 16, 2023.
At least this bloke kept to the covered lower half of Molly’s right breast – what a gentleman! (Picture: PA)

Tilly, who performs in front of the monument on Suffolk Street for around ten hours each week, feels pretty strongly about the topic, saying that it’s just ‘one of many cultural traditions that needs to be questioned and quashed.’

The campaign has sparked something of a debate in the city as to whether rubbing Molly Malone’s breasts is just a harmless piece of fun; an innocent tradition in the making. Or whether it’s emblematic of the casual objectification and sexualisation of the female form.

The campaign has sparked something of a debate in the city as to whether rubbing Molly Malone’s breasts is just a harmless piece of fun, a tradition in the making.
A rare moment of peace for Ms. Malone who is able to go about her business as a statue without being sexually assaulted by grinning idiots (Picture: Getty Images)

Legend has it that Molly sold fish during the day and her body by night. Hence her and her statue’s rather crude nickname, ‘The Tart with the Cart’.

Perhaps it’s this characterisation that led to the handsy tourists visiting Dublin deciding that her breasts were ripe for a-squeezing. If this is the case, really, those reaching for a bronze handful should pay Molly for the privilege.

People pose for photographs with the iconic Molly Malone statue in Dublin's city centre after it was vandalised with black paint across it's front. The statue of the semi historical, semi-legendary figure is a popular tourist destination. Picture date: Wednesday August 16, 2023.
We’re out of captions on this matter (Picture: PA)

Perhaps that’s the answer… Don’t forbid any monumental molestation (‘Molly-station?’). Just make the gropers pay. Want to rub Ms. Malone’s cleavage for good luck? Go for it. But you’ll need to stick two quid in the charity box in her cart. All proceeds donated to Sex Workers Alliance Ireland.

See? There’s always a compromise.