There a few contenders for the best Thin Lizzy bar in Dublin, given Phil Lynott’s history there – but the Bruxelles at 7 Harry Street is the winner. Walk right down to the basement and you’ll find the Flanders Lounge with handpicked Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy memorabilia from Phil’s mother, Philomena.
DUBLIN PUBS are well-known for their Snugs. They are cosy hidey-holes where you can retreat with a local Jameson’s whiskey or Guinness (if you get there before everybody else) and have your own private party. The Irish love blarney and snugs are blarney-friendly spaces, hardly ever seen outside this town. The beautiful art nouveau sign and clock outside, hides a very special space downstairs…
A MOTHER’S LOVE IN A DUBLIN PUB
Philomena Lynott, whose signed books about her famous son are on sale behind the Bruxelles bar – really understands pubs, and hotel life. In fact, when the Sex Pistols played Manchester on the Anarchy Tour in 1976, she put up John, Sid and the rest when nobody else would. She has had a hands-on involvement with the Flanders Lounge at The Bruxelles, which is a nice easy walk from Grafton Street and the centre of town. But also, a world away…
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
Thin Lizzy became famous for many reasons, but one of them was the Republican Party using their 1976 hit, The Boys Are Back In Town, for their Mitt Romney campaign. Phil would not have approved, says his mother .
The other huge Thin Lizzy hit was the Irish classic Whiskey in the Jar, often covered by Metallica.
“In metal, the number one influence is Black Sabbath,” according to Metallica’s James Hetfield, who talked to The Daily Telegraph about Phil. “But for the more musical bands it would be Thin Lizzy. The songwriting, the lyrics, the dual guitar and unbelievably cool drumming, it’s just magic.” Hetfield identifies a depth to Lynott’s writing that is often overlooked. “The struggles that he wrote about, with drugs, drink, ethnicity, all of those things, they almost speak louder now.”
The Thin Lizzy Snug at The Bruxelles has been named Philomena’s, in her and Phil’s honour. It’s also an early 1970’s song by the band, which appeared in a BBC studio session on The John Peel show. Peel also wrote the foreword to Phil’s book of poetry, Songs for While I’m Away.
COWBOY SONG – THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF PHILIP LYNOTT
The best source on Phil Lynott is the biography by Graeme Thomson, published by Constable. Written with the cooperation of the Lynott Estate, with an afterword by his former wife Caroline Taraskevics, it covers Lynott’s life in Dublin in great detail.
His stamping ground, according to the author, was “from the heart of St. Stephen’s Green, down Grafton Street and over the river to O’Connell Street, and along South King Street, Merrion Row and Baggot Street.”
“He was a showman,” according to insider Jim Fitzpatrick. “He would promenade up and down Grafton Street – that’s the only word to describe it. He loved the attention.”
U2 AND THIN LIZZY
Anyone who was in Dublin in the Seventies knew about Phil Lynott’s other enteprise, The Greedy Bastards, a band made up of members of Thin Lizzy and The Sex Pistols. The rising stars U2 were the support act, believe it or not.
Talking to The Daily Telegraph, Bono recalls “One of the Greedy Bastards came off stage, walked straight through the door (of the dressing room), threw up and then walked straight back on stage. Phil was at the end of Thin Lizzy and about to slide down the hill into the abyss. It was a strange moment. We really didn’t know how dark it could get for guys in a rock band.”
U2 famously covered Thin Lizzy on stage in Ireland in a tribute to them.
THE BRUXELLES AND ITS HISTORY
The Grafton Mooney was the original name for Bruxelles, named after James Gerald Mooney, who loved Gothic architecture, hence the look and feel of the pub today. You’ll see zodiac signs above the bar upstairs. They are all that remains of a prior incarnation, The Zodiac Lounge. Dublin is fond of its astrological signs – all 12 of them decorate the panelled doors at The Writers’ Museum these days, across town. Perhaps it has something to do with its passionate poet, W. B. Yeats, who was an astrologer as well as a Nobel prize-winning writer.
DUBLIN NOBILITY AND NOBEL PRIZEWINNERS
Terry O’Neill, Thin Lizzy’s first manager recollects that McDaid’s, the pub opposite the Bruxelles, was a folk music bar back in the day – and so the rockers made the Zodiac their own place.
The other Nobel prize-winner in town, physicist Erwin Shrodinger, of Shrodinger’s Cat fame, used to drink at McDaid’s too. But the coolest cat in town – no Nobel but plenty of nobility – Mr. Lynott – made the Zodiac/Bruxelles his own. It’s a great place to bring his little book of poetry, tucked under your arm. Just while he’s away.