22nd April 2012: International rugby player and current Munster Rugby captain Paul O’Connell has been made a Freeman of Limerick at an outdoor ceremony in Limerick city..
22nd April 2012
International rugby player and current Munster Rugby captain Paul O’Connell has been made a Freeman of Limerick at an outdoor ceremony in Limerick city..
The 32 year old received the honour in front of a large crowd of members of the public and invited guests. Many well know faces were present from the Irish rugby community including current Irish coach Declan Kidney and present and former players; Ronan O’Gara, Donncha O’Callaghan, Marcus Horan, David Wallace, Alan Quinlan, Keith Earls and Peter Clohessy.
Paul O’Connell told the assembled crowd of around 1000 people that receiving the Freedom of Limerick "is something I will treasure for the rest of my life”.
"It’s truly an honour for me to receive this award from my native city,” he said. "Sharing this with Emily and my son Paddy makes it all the more special. Since I was four years of age, I’ve been playing sport, I’m been very lucky with the influences I’ve had in my life. I’d like to dedicate this award to every underage coach I’ve ever had. Limerick’s passion for sport; it’s the heartbeat of this city, it’s what makes us tick. It’s an honour to be considered as an Ambassador for this city and I’m humbled to be added on a list with such inspirational figures,” he added.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long described Paul O’Connell as "an icon in today’s world for his contribution to the world of sport.”
"He has served his City, Province and Country in outstanding fashion throughout his rugby career,” he said. "He is now known throughout the world as Captain Fantastic, a title he achieved for his passion and love for the game. His respect for the opposition both on and off the field of play has been returned tenfold to the benefit of the Lions, Ireland, Munster, Young Munster, Limerick and indeed, of his family. He is a man who loves Limerick, its people and the proud title that Limerick holds as sporting capital of Ireland.”
Paul O’Connell has captained the British and Irish Lions team, the Irish Rugby Union Team and is the current Munster Rugby captain.
Recognised as one of the best second rows in the world, the 32 year old educated at Ard Scoil Rís is a world class lineout jumper and a forward of immense power and presence.
A former IRB World Player of the Year nominee, he was a member of Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam winning team, winning a Heineken Cup medal with Munster in 2006 and again in 2008 when he skippered Munster to Heineken Cup glory. He also captained the Munster Rugby team to Magners League title success in 2009 and 2011.
The Freedom of Limerick is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual by Limerick City Council. A total of 64 Honorary Freedoms have been granted by Limerick City Council since 1877.
The Honour is reserved for those who have made exceptional or unique contributions to the common good or to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the business, commercial, education or cultural life of the City.
Previous recipients include Eamon De Valera, John F Kennedy, John Hunt, Dr Ed Walsh, Bill Clinton, JP McManus, Sir Terry Wogan and Bill Whelan.
There are a certain number of ancient rights associated with the Freedom of the City. Freemen are expected to conduct their lives in an honourable fashion and are given an impressive sealed certificate enclosed in a solid silver casket.
Rights traditionally but apocryphally associated with Freemen include:
- The right to drive sheep and cattle over Sarsfield and Thomond Bridges
- To carry a naked sword in public
- To a silken rope, if hanged
- If found drunk and incapable, a Freeman will be sent home by law enforcers rather than sent to a cell
While sheep have occasionally been driven over the bridges on special occasions, the rest of these ‘privileges’ are now effectively symbolic.