LIMERICK philanthropist JP McManus has admitted he feels “embarrassed” he is commemorated on the city’s Mayoral chain, because of the great work of others.
Mr McManus joined wife Noreen and children John and Kieran, and wives Emma and Anne-Marie at City Hall on Wednesday for a special ceremony where a medallion was added to the centuries-old Mayoral chain of office.
He was selected for inclusion by previous Mayor Kevin Kiely in honour of his generous contribution to the city.
Limerick Football Club chairman Pat O’Sullivan, - who sponsored the medallion - and his children Pamela, her husband Kieran, and grandchildren Lara and Valerie, were also at the intimate ceremony, held in city manager Tom Mackey’s suite.
Mr O’Sullivan sponsored the addition of the solid gold chain - crafted by jeweller JJ Keneally - to say thanks to Mr McManus, whose foundation bankrolled a move for Limerick FC to its spiritual home in the Market’s Field.
Addressing the audience, Mr McManus said: “We are here because of the work of so many people. It is difficult to recognise everybody, but we are fortunate in Limerick that we have so many people who have a will and a wish and have put a lot of hard work into making it so much a better place.”
The businessman - whose Pro Am raised millions of euro for local charities last summer - added: “I am embarrassed in a way to be recognised in this way, because there are so many other people there before me who make it their lives day in day out. I am only here the odd day.”
Holding back tears, Mr O’Sullivan paid a heartfelt thanks to JP McManus, and his family.
“You have helped make so many people’s lives so much better by sharing your wealth. This is the nicest way I can say thank you for giving us the Market’s Field. I just hope we now have the strength and resources to make it how I want it to be for all of the kids in the areas. I cannot say thank you in a nicer way or a more heartfelt way. The beautiful thing is that JP and Noreen are not selfish: they are generous,” he told the audience, which also included Deputy Mayor Kiely, and senior Limerick City Council staff.
Mayor Jim Long used the occasion to give a history of the chain of office - which originated in 1820 when four gold medallions were purchased. He pointed out that other medallions added include Michael O’Callaghan, the former Mayor who was murdered in 1921. Another medal honours notable achievements in the city of sport.
These include the opening of Athlunkard Boat House, Bohemians RFC winning the first Munster Cup and the GAA buying the Gaelic Grounds.
“It is very appropriate that the public spiritedness which has characterised JP McManus should be acknowledged and recorded for posterity. There is no finer way that this can be commemorated than by the inclusion of the new medallion into this Mayoral chain, the finest in Ireland,” the Mayor added.
It is not the first time JP McManus was honoured by City Hall: he was previously awarded the freedom of his native city. And in 2010, following the Grand National victory, he was honoured by Mayor Kiely with a civic reception.