President Higgins made a freeman of Limerick

Almost 1,000 guests gather to see Mr Higgins receive freedom of his birthplace

 President Michael D Higgins  has been  awarded the freedom of Limerick by the newly merged local authority.

President Michael D Higgins has been awarded the freedom of Limerick by the newly merged local authority.

 

President Michael D Higgins has said he is humbled to have been made a freeman of Limerick.

Almost 1,000 invited guests gathered at a ceremony in the city’s ancient Milk Market today to see Mr Higgins receive the freedom of his birthplace.

President Higgins is the first person to be honoured with the title by the newly merged local authority.

“I accept this honour today with great pleasure and humility, given as it is on behalf of all those who live in Limerick, and those who love and shout for Limerick whatever their circumstances, wherever they may be, and whatever the challenges they face in the city and county of their minds and hearts.”

In his address, President Higgins - who was born in Limerick city and spent his early years growing up there - remembered the late Jim Kemmy for his commitment to and representation of the working people of Limerick.

Accompanied by his wife Sabina, the President said he was delighted his siblings John and Kathleen and their families were present to share this special day in “the city of their origins” - a city that his parents had loved.

The head of state praised the resilience of Limerick people, particular the character and solidarity which was shown during flooding in St Mary’s which he saw first hand when he visited King’s Island earlier this year.

“There are times of celebration in Limerick City of Culture, but the times my parents lived here were hard times in Limerick for many families, as they are today for many families; but the character and the solidarity and care for each other among the people of this city is well reflected, for example, in the recent response to the flooding.

“I saw this first hand earlier this year, when I visited the King’s Island, but I saw too in St Munchin’s and other communities the work being done for those affected by the flooding, and I congratulate them again today, as I do all those involved in tasks of regeneration, revival and inclusion.”

President Higgins is the first recipient of the new title of Honorary Freeman of Limerick following the formal establishment of Limerick City and County Council on June 1st last.

Previously, Limerick City Council used to bestow the title Freedom of Limerick City. Former recipients of the honour include Eamon de Valera, John F Kennedy, John Hunt, Dr Ed Walsh, Bill Clinton, JP McManus, Sir Terry Wogan, Bill Whelan and Paul O’Connell.

Speaking at today’s ceremony, Cathaoirleach of Limerick City and County Council Cathaoirleach Kevin Sheahan said he believes Ireland and the world need more voices like that of President Higgins.

“You have given a voice to communities throughout Ireland and abroad whose causes would not have been promoted if it were not for people like you.

“The decisions you have taken during your life, tough as they may have been at the time, to stand up for what you believe in, have carried you all the way to Áras an Uachtaráin,” he added.

Cllr Sheehan said it was fitting that President Higgins received the Freedom of Limerick during its reign as National City of Culture, of which he is a patron.

“Your keep affection for an in-depth knowledge of the Irish arts and culture section is well known at home and abroad, and therefore it is only fitting that your native city and county honours your contribution,” he said.

The Freedom of Limerick is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual by the council.

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, educational or cultural life of Limerick.