Last winter, when back in Dublin for a visit, I had the good luck to meet and be welcomed very warmly by the author and rocker Mum bar none, Philomena Lynott. She’s been on my mind today, on what would have been the 65th birthday of her beloved son.
As a kid, when Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town became a hit in the U.S., like so many other Yanks of Irish extraction, I was thrilled and proud that an Irish rock band – fronted by this tall, gorgeous Dub with such a unique voice – had a song that was getting so much airplay, now all my school chums knew it too. Phil Lynott left us way too soon, but that sultry voice continues to charm on all his recordings, and Philip (as his mother calls him) lives on the pages of Philomena’s book My Boy.
We met at the Marine Hotel in Sutton and drove straight to St. Fintan’s cemetery, where Philip is laid to rest, in the company of Pádraic Colum and Micháel MacLiammhóir.
It was a particularly blustery week at the end of January, with freakishly strong gusts of wind and quick, heavy showers. The ground between the headstones squelched and water puddled in the grass. While I said a quick prayer and snapped a few photographs of the laden grave (almost hidden under all the mementos left by fans), Philomena tugged away a few withered flowers before we headed out. She told me that she comes to visit just about every day.
After that, Philomena was kind enough to invite me back home for a cup of tea, where I met her nephew, Graham. Between the two of them, they keep the flame of Phil’s memory and his legacy alive. Fans come from all over Europe, the U.S. and from as far away as Asia.
Philomena led me to a room just off the sitting room that is a de facto museum of Phil’s belongings:
…as well as an interesting assortment of items fans have left behind in tribute:
There’s even a lifesize cardboard cutout of the man himself looking natty in that long black overcoat from the cover of Solo in Soho.
Over tea and biscuits Philomena shared stories and memories of a visit to New York, and she listened, patiently, to yet another fan tell her how much her son’s music means. When it was time to go, Philomena accompanied me outside and posed for a photo underneath her Philip’s Dublin Tourism marker. It seems the memory of him and her love for her boy keep her batteries fully charged, all the time.
Her latest endeavor is a project with Hot Press magazine called Still in Love With You, a book and a selection of commemorative items, the impetus for which grew out of the hugely successful exhibit of Phil Lynott memorabilia that ran in Dublin and London. On Friday, August 22nd, in Dublin, Philomena will be the guest of honor at a special dinner to celebrate Philo’s birthday (details here).
Philomena is an irrepressible woman, far younger than her 83 years, and full of spark. May she rock on, and on, and on!