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COMMENT: Philomena was a legendary mum

Monday, 17th June, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: Philomena was   a legendary mum

Philomena Lynott pictured at the unveiling of the Phil Lynott statue on Harry Street in 2005. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: Philomena was   a legendary mum

Philomena Lynott pictured at the unveiling of the Phil Lynott statue on Harry Street in 2005. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

IN LIFE, you are lucky if you get to meet a handful of people who make a lasting impression on you. Philomena Lynott, who passed away last week at the age of 88, was one of those people.

She may have been best-known for being the mother of Irish rock star Phil Lynott – but she was something of a legend herself. Anyone who has read her extraordinary book, ‘My Boy’, cannot fail to be moved by her story. A young, unmarried mother with a mixed-race child faced many challenges in an era that was far less forgiving and tolerant than the one we live in today.

Philomena overcame these obstacles to see her son scale the dizzy heights of international stardom, only to have it cruelly snatched away from her when he died tragically at the age of 36. Devoted fans of Phil Lynott felt a deep sense of loss – but it was nothing compared to hers.

In the early 1990s, I wrote a review of one of the early ‘Vibe for Philo’ gigs, an annual gathering to celebrate the music and legacy of the Thin Lizzy frontman. In the article, I revealed how much Phil’s work had meant to me personally as a young music fan growing up in Ireland in the 1970s and ‘80s.

A few days after it was published, I received a phone call from Philomena Lynott. She had called to thank me for the piece and to invite me to her Sutton home for coffee. As a lifelong fan of her son’s music, this was an offer I could not turn down.

I spent a couple of hours in the company of this wonderful woman; a still grieving mother determined to be a custodian of her child’s legacy. With justifiable pride, she showed me some of the priceless memorabilia: the framed gold records; the scrapbook of press cuttings; her personal photographs. 

She smiled when I recalled how I had once seen Phil having a laugh with the ladies working at the bakery counter in his local Superquinn. 

Before I left, she gave me a book of poetry written by Phil. I asked her to sign it for me.

While it was an honour to be invited to Philomena’s home that memorable Sunday afternoon, there was nothing that unusual about it. Thin Lizzy fans who travelled from abroad to visit Phil’s grave in St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton were often brought back for tea by Philomena. Perhaps mindful of how much her son was loved by his legion of fans, she seemed to accept that she had a duty to share him with others.

I met Philomena briefly on other occasions over the years, usually at Phil Lynott related events. She was always the same warm, beautiful person I had met that afternoon in Sutton. I was genuinely saddened to learn of her passing last week as she holds a special place in the hearts of all Irish rock fans.

She is finally reunited with her beloved Philip.

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