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James Molloy

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James Molloy

Biography

James Lynam Molloy (c. August 1837, Rahan, County Offaly, Ireland– 4 February 1909, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England) was an Irish composer, poet, and author.

James L. Molloy attended St Edmund's College (Ware) as a student between 1851 and 1855. After leaving the college, he went to the Catholic University in Dublin, graduating in 1858. Further studies brought him to London, Paris, and Bonn, before he settled in London from about 1863 with a lawyer's degree. However, he never practiced law. Instead, he worked as a private secretary to the then-attorney general. He was a war correspondent for the London Standard on the Franco-Prussian War and traveled widely, particularly in France. From 1880 he lived in Henley-on-Thames near London.

Molloy's first songs date from 1865, but his career really took off with the regular London ballad concerts from the late 1860s and particularly during the 1870s. His most often quoted successes in his own lifetime were songs like Clochette (1867), Thady O'Flynn (1869), and The French Partridge (1904). Love's Old Sweet Song proved to be a best-seller for many years, particularly popular with sailors, and immortalized in Joyce's Ulysses. Several of his songs were written in collaboration with W. S. Gilbert, including Thady O'Flynn (used in the operetta No Cards), Corisande (1870) and Eily's Reason.

From early on, his music included songs relating to Ireland, and although many of them made no use of Irish traditional melodic or rhythmic elements, they gained such a popularity in the early 20th century that some gained a folksong status. These include his still-famous Kerry Dance (1879) and Bantry Bay (1889) to which he wrote both words and music.


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