MUNSTER and Ireland star Paul O’Connell is to receive the Freedom of Limerick city later this month.
The unanimous decision to award the 32-year-old with the city’s highest civic honour was made by city councillors in advance of Munster’s disappointing defeat to Ulster at Thomond Park on Sunday.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, said Paul O’Connell is a terrific ambassador for Limerick “both on and off the field” and that he fully deserves to receive the honour.
“He is a proud Irish man, Munster man and a Limerick man. This is the highest civic accolade that Limerick City Council can give to a man who is an inspiration to all of us in all walks of life both young and old. He carries a tremendous badge of honour for Limerick and it will be my absolute pleasure to confer the Freedom of the City on such an iconic person,” he said this Tuesday morning.
The ceremony will take place at City Hall, Merchant’s Quay on Sunday, April 22 at 2pm.
Officials at City Hall hope to stage the ceremony outdoors ensuring that members of the public will be able to view the proceedings.
Paul O’Connell says he is delighted to have been chosen to receive the freedom of the city.
“I’m very proud of Limerick and where I come from. I’m lucky to have played for Munster for the last 11 years and my upbringing in Limerick and the influences that I’ve had in Limerick has played a massive part in my success in rugby,” he said.
The 32-year-old added: “I’d also like to thank Limerick City Council for bestowing this huge honour on me and I’m looking forward to it immensely.”
Paul O’Connell has captained the British and Irish Lions team, the Irish Rugby Union Team and is the current Munster Rugby captain.
He is recognised as one of the best second rows in the world and he 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.
“I’m always conscious when I’m playing for either Munster or Ireland that I’m also representing Limerick,” he said.
The Freedom of Limerick is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual by Limerick City Council.
To date, just 63 people have been granted the Freedom of the City by Limerick City Council.
Previous recipients of the accolade include Eamon De Valera, John F Kennedy, John Hunt, Dr Ed Walsh, Bill Clinton, JP McManus, Sir Terry Wogan and Bill Whelan.