Black Rose

Album: Black Rose - A Rock Legend (Roisin Dubh) (1979)

Songfacts®:

  • "Black Rose - A Rock Legend (Roisin Dubh)" is the title track of the 1979 album by Thin Lizzy. It is both an original song and a medley incorporating traditional Irish songs and allusions from the poet William Butler Yeats to the soccer player George Best, a drinking pal of bandleader and principal songwriter Phil Lynott.
  • The song was inspired by Lynott's fascination with Irish history and Celtic mythology, and ironically was to become his epitaph. Another irony is that like the founder of the Provisional IRA, the high poet of Irish rock was technically an Englishman. In its March 10, 1973 issue, New Musical Express reported that he was born in the Irish Republic, in fact Philip Parris Lynott was born in Hallam Hospital, West Bromwich near Birmingham on August 20, 1949, the illegitimate son of an Irish Catholic mother. His middle name was taken from his father, Cecil Parris. Lynott grew up in Dublin but also spent time in Manchester where his mother ran a hotel for musicians and show business types, the Clifton Grange, also known as The Showbiz or simply The Biz.

    Lynott appears to have built up a big mythology about his absentee father, but after the rising star and his band were featured in the long defunct popular weekly Titbits in January 1976, Cecil Parris materialized. Father and son met the following month, but the meeting did not go well, and shattered Lynott's illusions.

    A third irony in Lynott's life was to be the death of him; he had been lined up to play Hendrix in a biopic; Lynott bore a striking facial resemblance to the legendary guitarist. Unfortunately that was not where the resemblance ended, and on January 4, 1986, he died in Salisbury Infirmary from septicemia and multiple organ failure, the result of his addiction to heroin. He was 36 years old. Phil Lynott was buried in Saint Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton, Ireland, his grave engraved with the inscription:

    PHILIP PARRIS LYNOTT
    1949-1986.

    Go dtuga Dia
    suaimhneas da anam.
    Roisin Dubh.

    In 2005, a statue was erected to Lynott in his hometown, Dublin. There are a number of websites devoted to Thin Lizzy and Lynott, as well as several biographies of him and the band, including My Boy, by his mother. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 4

  • Nick from Ireland The provisional IRA was not started by an Englishman, the provisional IRA was founded in 1969 due to a split in the IRA. Lynott may have technically been born in England but was an Irishman. As his mother was Irish, he could have claimed Irish citizenship if he lived in England and never set foot in Ireland, as it was he was raised in Ireland. As he said himself: When I'm in England, I say, I'm from Ireland. When I'm in Ireland, I say, I'm from Dublin. When I'm in Dublin, I say, I'm from Crumlin. When I'm in Crumlin, I say, Leighlin Road. When I'm in Leighlin Road, I say, I'm a Lynott." Roisin Dubh is a 16th century poem and the name was a metaphor for Ireland.
  • AnonymousHi Paul - If they danced upon the black rose before the English came how can the colour black signify English tyranny if it was a black rose before they got there??
  • Roddie from Waterford, IrelandA third irony in Lynott's life was to be the death of him; he had been lined up to play Hendrix in a biopic; Lynott bore a striking facial resemblance to the legendary guitarist.
  • Paul from Dublin, IrelandThis great song is about Ireland. Roisín Dúbh, or Black Rose, is an ancient name for Ireland, the Rose symbolising the beauty of the land, the Black symbolising the tyranny of the English Occupation. The line 'When the kings and queens were dancing around on the Black Rose' is a reference to Ireland before the English came. he mentions many old Irish heroes, including Cuculain, a legendary Celtic warrior. Although Philo was born in England, he was a proud Irishman. The line from the same song 'Ah sure Seán, I was born and raised there' is a reference to this. He was also a big Manchester United fan, and was actually once bought a £5 share in the club as a birthday present. Today he's still recognised as one of the great Irish singer/songwriters, and his music is as popular today as ever.
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