Molly Malone


One of Ireland’s most well-known songs is also a ghost song. If you’ve never listened through to the last verse, you might not know. Here’s Sinéad O’Connor with this classic in a stripped-down version.

Molly Malone

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!

A-live a-live O! A-live a-live O!
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!

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The Holland Handkerchief

For Halloween this year I have to post one of my favorite “ghost ballads.” You have to listen to the whole song to find the ghost, but it’s worth it. I first heard it off of Connie Dover back in the mid ’90s. Here’s it’s sung by Mary McPartlan.

The Holland Handkerchief

A wealthy squire he lived in our town
And he was a man of high renown
He had one daughter, a beauty bright
And the name he called her was his Heart’s Delight

Many young man far to court her came
But none of them could her favour gain
Till there came one of the low degree
And above them all why she’d fancy he

But when her father he came to know
That his lovely daughter loved this young man so
Over fifty miles he sent her away
All to deprive her of her wedding day

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The Bay of Biscay

Sean Cannon sings the gentle ghost song, The Bay of Biscay. There is also a delightful version on Karan Casey and John Doyle’s album Exiles Return.

The Bay of Biscay

“My William sails on board the tender
And where he is I do not know.
For seven long years I’ve been constantly waiting
Since he crossed the Bay of Biscay-o.”

One night as Mary lay a-sleeping,
A knock came to her bedroom door,
Saying, “Arise, arise, my dearest Mary,
For to gain one glance of your William-o.”

Young Mary rose, put on her clothing,
Unto her bedroom door did go
And there she spied her William standing,
His two pale cheeks as white as snow.

“Oh Willy dear, where are those blushes,
Those blushes I knew long years ago?”
“Oh Mary dear, the cold clay has them
I am only the ghost of your William-o.”

“Oh Mary dear, the dawn is breaking.
The time has come for me to go
I am leaving you quite broken-hearted
For to cross the Bay of Biscay-o.”

“If I had all the gold and silver
And all the money in Mexico,
I would grant it all to the King of Erin
To bring me back my William-o.”