Author, hotel manager
My Boy: The Full Story of Philip Lynott & the Family He Never Knew
Sarah Lynott, Cathleen Lynott, Macdaragh Lambe
Phil Lynott, Leslie Crowther, Shay Healy, Caroline Crowther
12 June 2019 (aged 88)
One of Philomena Lynotts Last interviews
Philomena "Phyllis" Lynott (22 October 1930 – 12 June 2019) was an Irish author and entrepreneur. She was the mother of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, and her autobiography, My Boy, documents the relationship between her and her son. She was the proprietor of the Clifton Grange Hotel, Manchester, which provided accommodation for a number of bands in the 1970s including Thin Lizzy. She suffered depression following her son's death in 1986 and continues to visit his grave and celebrate his life.
Philomena Lynott was born on 22 October 1930 as the fourth of nine children to Frank and Sarah Lynott in Dublin, and grew up in the Crumlin district of the city. She left school aged 13 and worked in an elderly people's home.
In 1947, Lynott took advantage of a viable job market in England, that needed labour to rebuild damage caused by World War II, finding work as a nurse in Manchester. She began a relationship with Cecil Parris, which led to Philip's birth on 20 August 1949. She suffered racial prejudice because Philip was mixed race and decided it would be best for him to be raised by her parents in Dublin. Lynott had two other children that she put up for adoption. She remained close to her son throughout his life but because she only saw him sporadically, felt they were more like sister and brother or friends rather than a conventional mother and son relationship.
In 1964, Lynott began a relationship with Dennis Keeley and the couple took over management of the Clifton Grange Hotel in Whalley Range, Manchester. Though they had no experience in running a hotel, they bought the property after six months and remained there for the next 14 years. The hotel became well known in northwest England for being frequented by the show business trade. Lynott took advantage of hotel licensing laws, which meant the bar could be open at 2am when all other local venues had shut. When Thin Lizzy became commercially successful in the 1970s, the band looked forward to gigging in Manchester, and Philomena would accommodate them and put on an after-show party. Guitarist Brian Robertson recalls Philomena insisting on washing his hair before a television appearance, and later said she was "like everyone's mum, rolled into one." When the Sex Pistols played Manchester on the Anarchy Tour in December 1976, she was the only hotelier willing to accommodate them.
In 1980, Lynott and Keeley moved to Howth, County Dublin into a house Philip bought for them. They later moved to Glen Corr. She was unaware of her son's history of drug abuse until late 1985, and was present at Philip's bedside when he died on 4 January 1986 in Salisbury General Infirmary. Philomena suffered depression following her son's death and found it hard to come to terms with. She had a difficult relationship with her daughter-in-law, Caroline Crowther, after Philip's death and was forced to apply for a court order to see her grandchildren.
In the early 1990s, Lynott was approached by publishers asking if she would like to write her memoirs. She found the experience of re-examining the relationship with her son difficult, but rewarding. She regularly attended rock concerts around Dublin, and continues to commemorate Philip's life. She was a key figure in getting a bronze statue of him constructed in Dublin in 2005, and was the special guest at Thin Lizzy fan events.
Lynott criticised the US Republican Party for using Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town" as a promotional song. She believes Republican policies are at odds with the hardship and poverty she had to endure in the 1950s when Philip was young.
Lynott died on 12 June 2019, after suffering from cancer for a number of years. The Irish President Michael D. Higgins praised her work campaigning for LGBT rights and against drug use.