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The statue of Phil Lynott on Harry Street in Dublin. Valerie Flynn/The Journal
Musical statue

Phil Lynott statue needs repairs after being damaged by fans' plectrum tributes

Dublin City Council is planning works to strengthen the statue.

THE STATUE OF Phil Lynott in Dublin city centre has survived being knocked over by vandals and accidentally bashed by a motorist – but now it is being damaged by enthusiastic fans leaving tributes.

Dublin City Council told The Journal it has had to arrange repairs on the statue of the Thin Lizzy frontman because visitors wedging plectrums underneath the strings of its bass guitar were causing “unintentional” damage.

It’s not clear how the practice started at the statue, which was unveiled on Harry Street, off Grafton Street, in 2005.

The council said a “foundry is going to strengthen the welds” at a cost of €1,875.

“A regime of regular removal of plectrums will be introduced to protect the sculpture from damage,” the council said.

The work on the statue will be done on site.

phil's guitar 3

Dublin artist Paul Daly, who designed the piece, said he doesn’t mind. He added that he knows the statue means a lot to Lynott’s fans.

“It’s a nice gesture to do that, to leave a plectrum,” Daly said.

Daly noted that the statue has had to be fixed several times over the years, with the work carried out by Cast Foundry on Dublin’s Cork Street. The artist said the statue’s earring has been stolen more than once.

On Monday afternoon, there were five plectrums wedged very tightly between the statue’s inflexible metal “strings”. The strings were intact. 

Last November, the Instagram account of Droid Bishop, an electronic music artist, posted a video of a plectrum, branded with his name and logo, placed in the strings of the guitar. At that stage, the statue’s strings were broken in several places, with the damage apparently caused by earlier visitors. 

In 2019, the Instagram account of William Duvall, lead singer of the Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains, posted photos of Duvall with the statue, and of a plectrum with his initials on it among many others in the guitar’s strings.

Duvall wrote: “I couldn’t possibly be in Dublin for several days without saying hello and paying my respects to Phil.”

Also in 2019, Fáilte Ireland’s Visit Dublin Instagram account posted a photo of the statue and encouraged visitors to leave a plectrum. 

The tourism promotion body added the caption: “Any Thin Lizzy or Phil Lynott fan worth their salt needs to seek out this bronze statue, take a photo with him and leave a plectrum in his bass.”

Eric Connell, manager of Bruxelles pub, which the statue is right beside, said it wasn’t clear where the practice had originated but fans meant well.

“They’re musicians and they want to pay homage to the [greatest] musician of the town,” Connell said.

He added that visitors often left flowers at the statue or tied neckerchiefs like those Lynott wore around the statue’s neck.

Social Democrats councillor Cat O’Driscoll has requested a report from council management on the cost and extent of repairs needed on public art in the city. 

Last month, the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street was vandalised with green paint. The slogan “Please don’t, T.Y.” was painted on the fictional fishmonger’s chest, in an apparent message to tourists. Posing while grabbing the statue’s “lucky” breasts has become a popular photo opportunity.

The Molly Malone statue has also been damaged by being frequently handled by tourists.

The Sheriff Street statue of Luke Kelly of The Dubliners has been defaced on more than one occasion.

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