O’Driscoll and McVerry awarded Freedom of Dublin

They join former US presidents, Nelson Mandela and the members of U2


Rugby player Brian O’Driscoll and social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry were awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin last night.

Dublin’s Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn said O’Driscoll and Fr McVerry were a “fantastic inspiration to everyone”.

“They’re role models and are people who I think ‘walk the walk’ and set a great example of how they go about doing what they do.”

The Lord Mayor said the honour entitled the recipients to some old-fashioned privileges such as the right to a trial by jury, and the right to marry without getting the King’s licence, but added there were also some interesting duties.

“One [IS]that you have to be prepared to defend the city at a moment’s notice and to be armed with a light metal helmet and a bow made of yew and a sword.”

They join a list of freemen and freewomen including former US presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, the four members of U2, the late Dublin football manager Kevin Heffernan and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

O’Driscoll, who was accompanied by his wife Amy Huberman, said the honour was more a recognition of the teams he had been involved with, than him as an individual.

O’Driscoll said while the Grand Slam in 2009, when the country was deep in recession had “brought a bit of light into people’s lives”, Fr McVerry’s work was about “life and death”.

Artist Louis Le Brocquy and poet Thomas Kinsella were the last people to be awarded the freedom of the city in 2007.

The red carpet was rolled out for the pair at the Mansion House on Dublin’s

Dawson Street at 6pm.

Among the ancient privileges afforded to a freeman or freewoman is the right to bring goods into Dublin through the city gates without paying customs duties; the right to graze sheep on common ground within the city boundaries; and the right to vote in municipal and parliamentary elections.