The people, places and things that make Dublin special.
In a random (and completely unscientific) study I 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 had been repositioned from Grafton Street (she now wheels her wheelbarrow on Suffolk Street) but each and every person questioned mentioned the iconic bronze statue of rock star Phil Lynott, who left us for the great stage in the sky 32 years ago ‐ January 4th, 1986, to be precise.
While the immortalisations of Daniel O’Connell, James Connolly, Charles Stewart Parnell or James Larkin went unmentioned in our (again to be stressed, unscientific) poll, one might take this as less of a lack of interest in Dublin’s political history, and more of an indication as to the special place the Thin Lizzy frontman continues to hold 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.
Sculpted by Paul Daly, cast by Leo Higgins at the Cast Foundry in The Liberties, and unveiled by Phil’s mother Philomena outside Bruxelles bar on Harry Street, hundreds of people turned up to witness the statue’s unveiling in 2005. Commissioned by the Roisin Dubh trust, set up to commemorate Lynott’s life and work, it’s always been agreed from the outset – by his 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. Its very location is meaningful; Bruxelles was somewhere that Thin Lizzy would hold band meetings, and its basement contains a shrine to the man, utilizing key items from his personal archive. And while it is Dubliners’ wont to give the monuments of Dublin nicknames, often vaguely insulting (see: Mollie Malone, the tart with the cart), Phil’s has escaped derision. His is the rather‐salutary ‘Ace with the Bass’.
But the statue’s 11‐year 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, whereupon a third party, on their behalf, footed the €4,000 bill for the damages they caused. The vandals were said to be extremely remorseful. And rightfully so. More damage occurred last year when a motorist on Harry Street gave the 2.4m statue a knock. The driver accepted full responsibility and the statue was taken back to the Cast Foundry, where four weeks of repairs were undertaken, before it was restored to glory once more. Truth be told, it’s all a bit rock n roll.
In terms of legacies, Philo’s musical and poetic footprint (he published two book of poetry in the late Seventies) remains strong. A British newspaper ran a feature earlier this year with the headline ‘Phil Lynott: almost forgotten rock god’. As far as Dubliners are concerned, they couldn’t be more wrong. His memory burns bright, the music sounds better than ever, and while the statue stands, the boy will always be back in town.
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.
Most 4-year-olds are almost as digital savvy as their parents, and there's a high probability that your average toddler knows his or her way around an iPhone better than you do. It's still something of a surprise, then, to discover that the touchscreen generation can be as enthralled by a visit to the Lambert Puppet Theatre as their parents ever were.
When I was a kid we would drive to Dublin once or twice a year from County Limerick and get excited as we passed under the flyovers on the dual carriageway somewhere near Naas. The Ilac Centre had glass elevators back then, and we would ride them repeatedly before going for ice-cream sundaes on a terrace near the library. I won some anti-litter art competition when I was very young with a picture colored in with markers of St Stephen’s Green covered in apple cores and cigarette butts.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be presenting pieces by winners of the I Am Dublin flash fiction competition, as selected by judges Dermot Bolger and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. We’re talking about short, sharp writing that captures something of Dublin’s unique essence – while allowing tiny moments to speak for themselves. First up, Joy by Sinead Flynn.