The people, places and things that make Dublin special.
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 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 on the 4th of January, 1986.
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 in 2015 when a motorist on Harry Street gave the 2.4m statue a knock – and in 2017 when it was hit by a truck. The statue was also moved later in the same year during repaving work. 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 recently 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.
Pitching itself as “the greatest story ever strolled”, the Icon Walk cracks the heart of the Irish people wide open and tie-dyes the backstreets of Temple Bar with its vibrant colours.
Like spokes from a hub, the walk’s rainbow-painted laneways radiate outwards from The Icon Factory, a gallery and shop at the corner of Aston Place and Bedford Lane. Founded in 2009 by Barney Phair, this not-for-profit artists’ co-operative is run for the benefit of the many creatives that ply their wares here.
These streets are an unexpected treasure trove of culture and colour, splashed across spray-p
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.
For the love of spice bags... In Dublin pubs, the conversation has now evolved from queries of ‘What is a spice bag?’ and ‘Have you had a spice bag yet?’ to more pressing issues of etiquette and availability. Because everyone’s mother probably now knows what a spice bag is, that celebrated, moreish takeaway meal combo of chicken, chips and spices in a bag (foil or paper) and the occasional bit of onion and red pepper thrown in. She may have even eaten one. Once seen as something only millennials should let past their lips, it’s now gone properly mainstream, and was voted Ireland’s favourite dish at the Just Eat National Takeaway Awards last year. A mere culinary craze? We don’t think so.