| 23.6°C Dublin

He's still the first thing I think of every morning

PERCHED on a garden chair overlooking Dublin Bay is a very glamorous older woman. Her familiar face has graced the pages of glossy magazines and newspapers - but the 83-year-old would rather be known for different reasons.

"I am not Philomena Lynott, I am the mother of Phil Lynott who died of drugs," she declares.

We are in the sunroom of her north Co Dublin home, drinking tea. I had to pass through "Philip's room", decked with memorabilia and records belonging to the tragic Thin Lizzy singer's life.

Later this month, on August 20, her son should have been turning 65. He should be visiting his mother and perhaps celebrating over dinner.

Instead, the heartbroken woman makes the daily pilgrimage to his final resting place in the cemetery around the corner from her home, a routine which she says she calls "washing his face".

Phillip Lynott's life began in England where he was born to an unmarried mother.

"When I brought my son into the world, he was illegitimate," Philomena explains. "They put me in a work house, battered me, spat on me and classed me as a prostitute.

"They did everything to me because I had a baby without being married. And he was black. It was horrendous," she added.

DIFFICULT

Despite his difficult beginning, baby Phillip grew up very loved and was raised in Ireland.

He went onto be a much adored rock star, with fans all over the world and a string of hits like Whiskey in the Jar and Jailbreak which are still anthems for revellers to this day.

Fast forward 36 years after his birth, after selling thousands of records, Philip died suddenly on January 4, 1986.

Philomena said that she broke down after her only son's death.

"When he died, I died with him. I couldn't cope," she admits. "The pain was unbearable."

After a difficult few years, Philomena came through the darkness and said she receives comfort from his legion of fans, who still write to her and regularly visit her.

"I get thousands and thousands [of letters]. They do give you comfort, but I couldn't bear to read them at the time," she said.

"It was 25 years later that I started reading some of them."

Philomena said that the sympathy letters and cards came from all manner of people in the showbiz world.

"I opened one the other day, and it was from Jimmy Savile. I get them from all over the place."

Her son, who enjoyed a successful music career spanning 20 years, bowed to all the pressures of rock and roll and enjoyed everything that came with it - drugs, money and fame.

The story of his demise is well told.

However, his mother admitted that she was surprised when he died from drugs.

"When my Phillip died of drugs, that was a shock," she revealed.

He was found collapsed in his English home on Christmas Day 1986, and passed just days later in hospital, with his loving mother by his side.

"I did know he was on the marijuana. But I used to say to him, 'Philip, don't ever go on heavy drugs'.

"And, he would say, 'Ah Jesus Ma, we've all tried everything'. You know, the big boyo."

Since his death, money began to come through Philomena's door so something could be created to commemorate his life.

A statue now stands proudly outside Bruxelles pub on Dublin's Harry Street.

It disappeared for a number of months last year to be repaired after being knocked over, but it returned on his birthday last year.

And the sun shone through the rainy clouds as fans sang Lynott's popular song Sarah, something he penned about one of his two daughters.

Philomena is now completely anti-drugs and has become an active campaigner.

She regularly speaks to parents who stop her in the street and has spoken to young prisoners on several occasions.

TRAGICALLy

Philomena said that she recently picked up a magazine and read about Michelin-star chef Derry Clarke and his wife Sally-Anne, whose son tragically took his own life.

In his inquest it was revealed that there were traces of drugs in his system when he died.

"How is she coping at all?" she asks. "I thought, what a lovely looking lady, what a lovely couple.

"To read that their son… Well, do you know something, I put her on my prayer list at night.

"I am praying for her, God bless her."

She reveals that she also wanted to reach out to the parents of tragic model Katy French, who was found to have traces of cocaine in her system when she passed.

But Philomena said she feared she would be "intruding on their grief".

"Every time I read something about another mother, my heart goes out and I get the pen and paper, and tears sting my eyes," she said.

"I don't know what a good night's sleep is.

"The last thing at night, I think of Philip. The first thing in the morning, I wake up and I think of him."

hnews@herald.ie


Privacy