Giving up her third child, James, for adoption and, at practically the same time, sending four-year-old Phil back to Crumlin to live with her parents were the hardest decisions of Philomena’s life.
Her mother, after all, was so mortified that she told the neighbours – and even her own husband – that Philip, her grandson, ‘belonged to a black lady’ who tragically died.
But she says, not only did her heart-breaking choice give both boys a better life, it also freed Philomena to get her own life together.
‘I lived in slums and Philip was going home to Crumlin, which was beautiful in its day,’ she says. ‘Going home to Mammy and my brothers to be raised like I was in that little house – warm, getting a dinner, pots of stew down him and everything, and going to school, it was…’
Her voice trails off.
‘Yeah,’ she says, adding: ‘And that allowed me to go and take the three jobs and send money to Mammy for keeping him and then I’d send him his pocket money. I kept him very trendy; he was the first kid in Dublin to have a Dalek machine (a Dr Who toy).
‘And from that, I came out of the gutter. I got myself three jobs – I was working a full week, I was a barmaid at night, and I was doing markets at the weekend.
‘And I saved enough money to put a deposit on the hotel. And I moved up in the world, instead of God knows what would have happened to the three of them. They probably would have been brought up in a slum area; God knows what they’d be. There they are and they love me.’
In 1976, Phil disclosed in an interview that he would love to meet his father, Cecil.
‘His father got in touch with the office and the office got in touch with me. I said to Philip, “Do you want me to come with you when you’re going to meet your father?” “Ah, no,” he said. I think he took Big Charlie, his roadie.’
But, according to Philomena, father and son only met on one occasion – and not ‘five or six’ times, as Cecil’s wife Irene suggested in an interview with the MoS last year. She says Philip told her he didn’t warm to his father. ‘Philip was never interested afterwards. I don’t think he ever wanted to meet him again.’
Cecil Parris is, it is understood, living out his final days in a home for the elderly. Does Philomena have any desire to see him before he passes away?
‘No. I have not.’