People often talk about the impact Irish musicians have had on national self-confidence over the years, whether it's U2's dragon-slaying in America, Enya's sonic ubiquity in the late 1980s, or The Boomtown Rats' first appearance on Top of the Pops.
But before any of them - and long before the dreaded boy bands - there was Philo.
From the moment Thin Lizzy first appeared on Top of the Pops in 1973, having scored an unlikely hit with the traditional song Whiskey in the Jar, Phil Lynott looked and sounded like a megastar.
The boy from Crumlin, Co Dublin hit the ground running, grabbing fame with both hands as the band became stadium-fillers across the UK, Europe and, briefly, America.
But behind the bluster was a shy and cultured, almost bookish man who hated talking about himself in interviews and throughout his life battled with the difficult circumstances of his childhood and the various rejections he'd experienced.
Even after he settled down with Caroline Crowther and had two daughters, Lynott could not accommodate his demons and he was just 36 years old when he died of complications related to his heroin addiction on January 4, 1986.
The circumstances of his death have tended to dominate discussions of his life ever since and, though affection for him remains strong in his hometown of Dublin, getting a grip on who Phil really was has become harder and harder over the years.
Now, in a new film called Songs for While I'm Away, documentary-maker Emer Reynolds has used Lynott's songs and the recollections of his family and friends to create an evocative and poetic testament to the singer's life.
Reynolds had just finished her Emmy-award-winning 2017 documentary The Farthest when she was approached about the idea of making a film about Lynott. It helped that she was a fan.
"It was the most exciting thing that anyone ever suggested to me," the Irish director tells me. "I'm a massive Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy fan since way back, but I really only knew the rock star I remember from when I was young; this huge, confident, sexy character. I didn't really know anything about what was going on in his real life."
As its title might suggest, Reynolds' film uses Lynott's songs, especially the lesser known ones, as a framing device, anchoring the man's music to his life and giving little insights into how he might have coped with growing up and the arrival of fame.
But an equally important key to the riddle of Lynott's personality was provided by his friends and family.
"I mean, obviously you can't interview Philip himself," she says, "but I wanted to tell the story of his life as close to first-hand as we could and so actually being able to talk to his family, his daughters, his close friends, his former girlfriend, that was really important."
His family, she says, "were cautious enough" when first approached. "They wanted to know what film I wanted to make and I told them I was hoping to create this personal, poetic portrait of him that wouldn't shirk the darkness, but overall would celebrate his life and work in a compassionate way.
"We got to talk to most of the people we wanted, but we couldn't unfortunately speak to his mother, Philomena, who was too unwell to talk to us at the time and then passed before the film was finished. But coming close to people who knew him well and then getting their stories was a huge honour."
Philomena Lynott was not yet 20 when she had Phil: he was born in the English midlands and his father, Cecil Parris, hailed from Guyana. Though he did pay some support when Phil was small, Cecil quickly disappeared from the boy's life.
Philomena moved to Manchester, but, worried about the racism her son might experience there, sent him home to Crumlin, aged eight, to live with her parents.
In the film, Phil's Uncle Peter, who was so close in age to him that he became a kind of sibling, recalled how quickly he adapted to his new world.
"Peter told me had a very strong English accent when he arrived," Reynolds says, "and he got rid of it at high speed."
Peter also describes Phil's first day at the local Christian Brothers school, where the pair had to repel determined attacks.
"He never really spoke about his black Irishness," Reynolds explains, "or his Irish identity, he didn't really write songs about it. His friends and family said he just didn't talk about it much.
"And I think that story about him coming into school on the first day and ending up in a fist fight, that story could also be told if he was just a new English kid on the block, you know? And a new boy in a school in Crumlin is going to cause some sort of a reaction either way."
As a teenager, Lynott became passionately interested in American soul and blues. While at school he became friendly with Brian Downey, who would encourage his interest in music and later become Lizzy's drummer.
By the late 1960s he had fronted several rock bands and made the acquaintance of Brush Shiels, who told him he ought to be doing something on stage rather than just standing there, and taught him to play bass. In the film, Shiels says recalls that soon "he was improving a bit too fast for my liking". By 1969, Downey and Lynott had formed Thin Lizzy with original guitarist Eric Bell.
When the trio moved to London, things started to happen, but in the film Downey recalls a sad incident when Lynott wandered up and down a Soho street known for its barber shops, poking his head in the doors as he'd heard his dad lived in London and cut hair for a living. After a while he said, "F**k this", and walked away.
Lizzy had made three albums and supported bands like Slade by the time one of their managers decided that it might be an idea to release Whiskey in the Jar as a single. The traditional song had been popularised by The Dubliners in the late 1960s, but the Lizzy version was distinctive, to put it mildly: Irish folk music refracted woozily through the medium of glam.
Whiskey in the Jar did the trick and soon Lynott was bashing out hits of his own as Lizzy expanded into the distinctive two-guitar sound that would define them.
With fame came drugs and other temptations and Lynott's death in 1986 shocked the wider world, but maybe not his closest friends.
"I hope the film shows him in all his light and shade," Reynolds says. "From this point in time, we think it's absolutely normal and ordinary that Irish bands and Irish rock stars are on the world stage.
"But when you think of 1971, maybe we had Rory Gallagher and maybe Van Morrison, but Thin Lizzy just kicked the door down. Phil was the first and he was so extraordinary.
"He didn't do it with a shrug, he did it with a yell."
Songs for While I'm Away is released in cinemas on December 26