The most important resident of St Fintan's cemetery in Sutton - sorry Charlie Haughey - is Phil Lynott. Back in the day, I did a magazine feature with the gravediggers of St Fintan's on the ups and downs of the job. The gravediggers would say that the cemetery frequently hosted rock pilgrims calling in to pay their respects to Phil, and some days, those pilgrims might be lucky enough to run into Phil's mother Philomena, who frequently called in to visit her son's grave. I can't verify this, but the gravediggers would say Philomena would often kindly invite many of them back to her house nearby for tea and a chat about Thin Lizzy.
Philomena Lynott died today, aged 88. She was born in Dublin and gave birth to Philip Lynott in West Bromwich in 1949. Right after her birth, she was forced to enter a home for unmarried mothers - a laundry, basically - in Birmingham because, as she said, the father of her child was black (Phil's father Cecil Parris was from Guyana). Phil spent most of his early years in Crumlin with Philomena's parents while Philomena lived in Manchester and sent money back home. It was after her son's death in 1986 that the world got to properly know Philomena. Over the last four decades, she had remained the keeper of the Thin Lizzy flame and revealed herself - via her memoir My Boy, media interviews and campaigns against drugs and US Republicans - to be an incredible woman.
This interview that Philomena did to mark the one-year anniversary of Phil's passing is utterly heartbreaking but testifies to her formidable character.
Here she is on Kenny Live from 1995 telling the story of her life.
She met Billy Connolly at Phil's grave for a British TV show.
She delivered this oration at Phil's graveside on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Philomena also brilliantly flayed the Mitt Romney campaign for using 'The Boys Are Back In Town' at the 2012 Republican Convention.
“I am really upset at Philip’s music being used in a political way that he himself would not have approved of. As far as I’m concerned, Mitt Romney’s opposition to gay marriage and to civil unions for gays makes him anti-gay, which is not something that Philip would have supported.
“He had some wonderful gay friends, as indeed I do. They all deserve equal treatment in every respect, whether it be in Ireland or in the United States. Neither would Philip have supported his policy of taxing the poor and offering tax cuts to the rich, which Paul Ryan is advocating. There is certainly no way that I would want the Lynott name to be associated with any of these ideas.”
Philomena survived the laundries and survived the heartbreaking death of her beloved son. She was a truly inspirational Irishperson. We can only hope she'll be buried beside her son.