May 13

SONGS of the Molly Maguires:

Last year saw the Irish premiere of John Kearns play “Sons of Molly Maguire” at Liberty Hall Theatre, as part of Mayfest 2017. It was very well received , as were the two additional performances which were added , Tuesday 16th May and Wednesday 17th May at the Sean O’Casey Theatre , East Wall .


This year marks the 140th anniversary of the execution of ten Irish emigrants in 1877, accused of acts of violence against mine owners, foremen etc, in the Pennsylvania coal fields. Remembered as “Day of the Rope”, a further ten men would also be hanged over the next two years, mainly based on evidence from a fellow Irishman who infiltrated their community on behalf of  the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Having previously played at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York, where it was nominated for five awards, these performances of “Sons of Molly Maguire” represented the first time this story had ever been told on an Irish stage.

Playwright John Kearns with cast & crew at Liberty Hall

Playwright John Kearns with cast & crew at Liberty Hall

As we look forward to these not-to-missed performances , we thought we’d take some time to look at some popular (and not so popular) SONGS of the Molly Maguires . We start of with the most obvious one . For many people, their knowledge of the Molly Maguires extends to the song by the Dubliners, recorded in the late 1960’s.

A popular and rousing sing-along , the song sheds little light onto the story of the Mollies , though it does reassure us that while they have their faults they do have one important saving grace -  “They’re drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men” and also gives us plenty of warning that we’ll  “ never see the likes of them again” .


Far more interesting in terms of historical relevance are these two songs recorded by the Irish Balladeers, and appearing on their 1968 album simply titled “The Molly Maguires”.

“If you stand in the dark with your ear to the wind
you can hear the Sons of Molly.
Down in the dark of the old mine shaft
you can smell the smoke and the fire.
And the whispers low in the mines below
are the ghost of Molly Maguire.”

The Irish Rovers All hung up

This next one has a very light-hearted jaunty sound, released by the Irish Rovers in 1971. This Irish / Canadian band are probably best remembered for the incredibly stupid song “The Unicorn”, but also released a version of the even more stupid “Snoopy vs the Red Baron”. Their “Lament for the Molly Maguires” actually has a decent bit of the history in there (more than the Dubliners one), but probably stands out most for being the only song here which explicitly refers to the questionable claim that “Many’s a Welshman lost his ears”.

molly maguires - cinema quad movie poster (1).jpg

In 1970 Sean Connery and Richard Harris starred in “The Molly Maguires”, which is the other common reference point for people when they’re mentioned. The score by Henry Mancini is very well considered, and if you’ve got 14 minutes to spare here’s a selection from it.


18342430_1838674432828588_7617285063684967636_nMOLLY MAGUIRES…on stage at Liberty Hall


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