HE was given the Freedom of Limerick in 2012 and will now be recognised by his Alma mater, becoming Dr Paul O’Connell in the process.
The Limerick rugby legend is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Limerick next week, the college where he was in the final stages of completing a computing engineering degree when professional rugby came calling.
The former Irish rugby captain and Munster legend will receive a UL Honorary Doctor of Science next Thursday, November 5, at a ceremony in the University Concert Hall.
The Limerick man saw his glorious international career come to a shuddering halt with an injury picked up just before half time in the Ireland-France group game in the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff recently.
He underwent surgery for a torn hamstring in London a few days later and will be on the sidelines for an unknown period time as a result. He was due play for Toulon once the World Cup was finished but could now be facing several months on the sidelines.
The iconic rugby player won 108 caps for his country over 13 years and was capped 174 times for his province in a career that also saw him captain the British and Irish Lions.
Paul, who recently turned 36 and lives in Limerick with his wife Emily and two children, attended the Model School and Ardscoil Ris before enrolling in UL, completing three of four years of the degree before deferring it to concentrate on rugby.
Several of Paul’s former teammates are expected to attend the ceremony next Thursday, where he will join fellow sporting greats Jack Charlton and Declan Kidney in becoming an honorary doctor of the University of Limerick.