Fact Check: The Truth Behind Dublin's Molly Malone Statue Breasts Turning Gold from People Touching Them

Getty Images
Getty Images


The breasts of the iconic Molly Malone statue in Dublin, Ireland, have turned gold in color over time from so many people touching them for good luck.


Rating: True
Rating: True

On April 16, 2024, Reddit user @MouseboyIsCool posted an image [archived here] of the statue of Molly Malone, the subject of Dublin's unofficial anthem, captioned: The Breasts on the Molly Malone statue in Ireland are golden from people touching them." The post received more than 28,000 upvotes and 1,400 comments, as of this writing.

We looked into the claim, and can verify that the statue's breasts are indeed golden from years of people touching them. On Google Maps Street View, people can be seen taking pictures with the statue.

(Google Maps Street View)

According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), bronze erosion occures "when a corrosion-resistant oxide layer is removed and the bare metal beneath corrodes." Erosion can be caused by "man-induced factors such as excessive handling or rubbing." The GSA also states that "erosion due to human contact is by far the most serious problem, but erosion can occur due to the abrasive action of wind-driven pollutants."

Malone, claimed by some to be a real woman from the 17th century, is a street hawker sung about in an unofficial anthem of Dublin, Ireland: "Cockles and Mussels." Her statue was unveiled in 1988.

The practice of touching the statue's breasts for good luck has long been in existence, with some claiming their tour guides told them so.

In February 2024, Trinity College Dublin student Tilly Cripwell started a campaign called "Leave Molly mAlone" in an effort to stop the tradition.

"When I see men and women touching the Molly Malone statue, their kids are looking at them. What example is this setting? Why is it a part of Irish culture?" she said in a 2024 article for the Irish Independent.

Busker Tilly Cripwell beside Molly Malone statue in Dublin (Irish Independent)


'Busker Launches "Leave Molly mAlone" Campaign to End Groping "Tradition"'. Irish Independent, 28 Feb. 2024, https://www.independent.ie/regionals/dublin/dublin-news/busker-launches-leave-molly-malone-campaign-to-end-groping-tradition/a2140775717.html.

E Rec. The Dubliners - Molly Malone (Lyric Video). 2018. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAzhNEW7KAI.

'Google Maps'. Google Maps, https://www.google.com/maps/@53.3438153,-6.2610174,3a,17.3y,157.28h,83.04t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sxx4YxEC2sYeVtLHhgIEVDw!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3Dxx4YxEC2sYeVtLHhgIEVDw%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D49.928226%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i16384!8i8192?coh=205409&entry=ttu. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.