Limerick councillors take robes out of storage to honour Frank

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Cllr Joe Leddin, Mayor Michael Sheahan, Cllr Kieran O'Hanlon, Cllr Maria Byrne, Cllr Michael Hourigan, Cllr Joe Crowley and Cllr John Gilligan wearing the old ceremonial robes of the city at the funeral of the late Frank Prendergast outside St Johns Cathedral. Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE ceremonial robes of Limerick City Council, mothballed following its merger with the county council, were taken out of storage on Monday in honour of the late Frank Prendergast.

THE ceremonial robes of Limerick City Council, mothballed following its merger with the county council, were taken out of storage on Monday in honour of the late Frank Prendergast.

A special meeting of Limerick City and County Council was convened hours ahead of the funeral of the former Mayor of Limerick in order to pass a vote of sympathy.

And several members of the council said that it would be a fitting tribute to Frank Prendergast - who set such store by the traditions of Limerick - if those councillors who wished to were allowed to wear the red robes to his funeral.

The garb has been worn by councillors on formal occasions - including mayoral elections and freedom of the city conferrals - going back hundreds of years. There was no such tradition in the county and city councillors saw red last year over concerns the ancient emblems of office were about to become museum pieces. A council spokesperson later said members would still have the option of wearing the robes for mayoral elections.

At Monday’s special meeting, Mr Prendergast’s former Labour colleague Cllr Joe Leddin said: “there should be an opportunity for us to robe in the old City Council robes, if that is the wish of members, for the funeral this morning”.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, Fianna Fail, said Frank Prendergast had “loved the history and traditions of Limerick and there was always a great tradition of wearing robes at the funeral of a former mayor”.

He disputed with party colleague Mayor Kevin Sheahan, in the chair, that there had ever been a decision or agreement to dispense with the robes on such occasions.

Mayor of the city, Fine Gael’s Cllr Michael Sheahan said “the best tribute we could pay would be to be able him by being allowed to wear the robes he put so much store in”.

Mayor Kevin Sheahan said he had not expected a discussion on a matter that was not on the agenda and expressed a concern there might not be enough robes to go round. But he was keen that there be no acrimony on such an occasion and having convened with parliamentary leaders, it was agreed that those who wished to attend the funeral in robes be allowed to do so.