President set to be conferred with the Freedom of Cork

Higgins to join illustrious list of recipients of city’s highest honour

President Michael D Higgins is set to be honoured with the Freedom of Cork city.

City Lord Mayor, Cllr Catherine Clancy will next week ask councillors to support her call to bestow the city's highest honour on the President.

Cllr Clancy briefed party whips on her proposal on Tuesday and the proposal is expected to be passed when it comes before a council meeting next Monday.

If the proposal is supported, President Higgins will become the fifth President of Ireland to be so honoured while in office following in the footsteps of Sean T O'Kelly, Eamon De Valera, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese.


The first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde was also conferred with the Freedom of Cork in 1906 prior to his taking office in Aras an Uachtaran and he was honoured for his work as a journalist and Irish language scholar.

President Higgins, who represented Galway West as a Labour TD and served as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in the 1993-1997 rainbow coalition - took up office as the ninth President of Ireland on November 11th, 2011.

Aside from former Irish presidents, he joins a distinguished list of national and international recipients of the Freedom of Cork including former US presidents, Woodrow Wilson and John F Kennedy and Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Thomas 'Tip' O'Neill.

Others to be honoured include Fenian, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, Irish nationalist, John Redmond, former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds and former British prime minister, John Major as well as former SDLP leader, John Hume.

More recently local Cork sports stars, former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland footballer Roy Keane and Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan have been honoured as has All-Ireland winning Cork hurling captain, Sean Og O hAilpin.

Last year, comedians Frank Duggan and Michael Twomey, the duo behind Cork characters, Cha and Miah, were together with entertainer Billa O'Connell conferred with the Freedom of Cork in what was the first occasion that three people were conferred with the honour simultaneously.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times