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Monday 16 October 2017

Molly's coming back, but why are all our female statues tarts?

The Molly Malone Statue. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The Molly Malone Statue. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

So Ireland's most famous street trader is set to return to her home city.

Yes, that national symbol of voluptuous Irish womanhood, Molly Malone, will be returned to the city centre later this month, after a few months of being welded and waxed, buffed and beautified back to premium condition.

Poor Molly was in a bad state, having been fondled and felt up by many a passing tourist who were more than a little impressed by her extraordinary assets.

And we're not talking cockles and mussels here.

Affectionately known as the "tart with the cart" Molly was. of course, rumoured to have sold more than the odd bit of shellfish to the male residents of the city.

Like Anna Livia across the Liffey, Molly for years suffered the humiliation of having a less than respectable moniker given her by the locals.

The beautiful bronze Anna Livia Millennium fountain, you may remember, was dubbed the "whore in the sewer" and the "floozy in the jacuzzi", when it graced our capital's main street.

Anna's now been run out of town, to the Croppies Acre memorial park on the North Quays.

Molly herself will spend three years outside the tourist office on St Andrew's Street, before being returned to the corner of Grafton Street.

Firmly in situ across the Ha'penny Bridge we have the sculpture of two women sitting with their shopping.

Hags

Unfortunately they're known to many as the "hags with the bags", another less than complementary title.

Head out the southside to Burlington Road and you'll find the mythical Queen Maedbh, set in bronze and posing stark naked in order to remind us all of her voracious, unstoppable, sexual appetite.

A warning perhaps, of the danger of uppity females?

All this made me think. Hags, tarts, floozies and naked sex sirens...is this really how we want to symbolise Irish women?

Because, as far as I am aware, the only public statue that we have to a woman who actually existed is that honouring Constance Markievicz.

She stands outside the swimming pool on Tara Street - and there's also a bust of her in Stephen's Green.

That's it for the women, with the exception of Sister Catherine McAuley at the Mercy International Centre on Baggot Street, but that's on private grounds.

'Thus far shalt thou go ladies, and no further', to paraphrase Parnell.

Speaking of which, where is the statue to Anna Parnell, for instance, who, with her Ladies' Land League achieved what her brother Charles couldn't in getting the British government to the negotiating table?

Bust

He has a statue and a square named after him, she doesn't even merit a bust on a side street.

What about Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington or Ann Devlin, to name just a couple of influential Irish women?

But, no, all our other statues are either "hags", "floozies" and "tarts" except of course for all those statues and grottoes to the Virgin Mary.

Tarts and Virgins. Goodness me, we do seem to have a problem.

It's what Freud dubbed the virgin-whore complex.

Our rather public penchant for separating women into two distinct groups, solely based on whether they are 'up for it' or not, would suggest that we may have a few issues that need sorting.

Irish men love the idea of tarts and floozies but their ultimate woman is still a mammy who also happens to be a virgin.

Hmm, are some of us still a little bit confused about how babies are made?

It's not just the kids who need sex education classes these days, some of the adults could do with learning the basics as well.

Before we stick up another half-naked statue, at least.

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