Spare cash for spare Molly?

A spare head for one of Ireland’s most iconic statues is to go under the hammer - figuratively speaking - at auction next week.

The piece, for the landmark Molly Malone statue, which stands in Dublin’s Grafton Street, will be up for grabs for an estimated €20,000 to €30,000 on July 5.

It recently emerged that two identical heads were prepared from the original mould for the bronze sculpture 23 years ago, this in order to hedge against problems during casting. In the event, both heads were cast successfully.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

The spare has been kept ever since in the Bantry, County Cork, studio of the sculptress, Jeanne Rynhart. Auctioneers Mealy’s said that Rynhart had now decided to sell it “to free up space in her studio.” and the Molly head will now go under the hammer with an estimated value of €20,000 to €30,000.

Auctioneer George Gerard Mealy said this would be the sculptress’s “first foray into the Irish auction market.”

The Molly Malone statue is one of the best known and most-photographed pieces of public art in Ireland and a popular sight for tourists. It was commissioned by Dublin City Council to celebrate Dublin’s millennium year in 1988, and was unveiled in December that year by then lord mayor, Ben Briscoe. Rynhart sang the song “Molly Malone” with The Dubliners during the celebrations.

The sculpture was controversial at the time, with it attracting a barrage of criticism from several quarters, particularly for the low-cut dress it depicted Molly in, which earned it the nickname “the tart with the cart.”

Rynhart claims the statue was based on the figure and dress of a 17th Century woman who was both a fishmonger and part-time prostitute who plied her trade in the city.

Rynhart’s work also includes sculptures in both Cobh, County Cork and New York of Annie Moore, the teenage Cork girl who was the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island.