On Harry Street, a monument to a rock legend

In a random (and completely unscientific) study, we asked several people to name five of the best known statues in Dublin.

Merrion Square’s Oscar Wilde was name checked, as was Patrick Kavanagh’s canal bank sit‐down. Some confusion reigned as to where Molly Malone was. (She now wheels her wheelbarrow on Suffolk Street.)

But each and every person mentioned Phil Lynott’s statue. The iconic bronze memorial to the rock star who left us for the great stage in the sky on January 4th, 1986.

One of Dublin’s favourite sons

The immortalisations of Daniel O’Connell, James Connolly and James Larkin may have gone unmentioned in our unscientific poll. However, rather than disregard for political history, this is an indication of the special place the Thin Lizzy frontman holds in Dubliners’ hearts.

A poet and a rocker, the Brummie‐born lead singer and bassist, who grew up in Crumlin, remains one of the city’s most beloved sons.

Finding Phil Lynott’s statue

The statue of Phil and his guitar stands tall and proud on Harry Street. Its location is just a stone’s throw away from the five-star Westbury Hotel and, even more appropriately, right outside one of Phil’s favourite locals – Bruxelles.

You’ll find the turn for Harry Street about halfway down Grafton Street. A bank marks the turn but, at certain times of the day, your view is likely to be clouded by the flower sellers of Grafton Street. So be sure to look twice.

Local connections

Sculpted by Paul Daly and cast by Leo Higgins at the Cast foundry in The Liberties, the statue was unveiled by Phil’s mother, Philomena, in front of hundreds of people in 2005.

The piece was commissioned by the Roisin Dubh trust, which was set up to commemorate Phil Lynott’s life and work. From the outset, it’s been agreed by family, friends and fans that the statue captures the essence of the rocker, who tragically died aged 36, his health ravaged by drugs and alcohol.

Phil Lynott - Old Town

Phil Lynott’s Old Town music video in all it’s glory – Dublin 1982.

Its very location is meaningful. Bruxelles was somewhere that Thin Lizzy would hold band meetings and its basement contains a shrine to the man. It even features key items from his personal archive. The statue isn’t too far from some of Phil’s other favourite locations either.

In Nearys pub around the corner, he launched a book of poetry. He rubbed shoulders with other musicians and artists at Slatterys on Capel Street and he recorded some of the video for ‘Old Town’ at The Long Hall on George’s Street. Away from the pub, he was also known to hang around Temple Bar and watch films at the Stella in Rathmines.

And while it is Dubliners’ wont to give the city’s monuments vaguely insulting nicknames (see: Molly Malone, the tart with the cart and The Spire, the stiletto in the ghetto), Phil’s has escaped derision. Locally, his statue is called the rather salutary ‘Ace with the Bass’.

A streak of bad luck

But the statue’s tenure on Harry Street hasn’t passed without incident. In 2013, it was knocked from its plinth by two men, under the influence, who later presented themselves to Gardaí. On their behalf, a third-party footed the €4,000 bill to fix the damages they caused. The vandals were said to be extremely remorseful. And rightfully so.

More damage occurred in 2015 when a motorist gave the 2.4m statue a knock. Then, in 2017, it was hit by a truck. The statue was also moved later that same year during repaving work. Truth be told, it’s all a bit rock ‘n’ roll.

Phil Lynott statue reinstated

The Phil Lynott statue which had been badly damaged was reinstated on Harry Street in Dublin - May 2013

In terms of legacies, Philo’s musical and poetic footprint remains strong. (Don’t forget, he published two book of poetry in the late 70s).

While a British newspaper recently ran a headline calling Phil a “forgotten rock genius”. This couldn’t be further from the truth in the city where he grew up. As far as Dubliners are concerned, his memory burns bright, the music sounds better than ever and, while the statue stands, the boy will always be back in town.

Planning to pay Phil a visit? Check out these other things to do in Dublin’s creative quarter.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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