FORMER European Parliament president and Freeman of Limerick Pat Cox is to chair the governing group that will drive the Limerick City of Culture initiative for 2014.
Mr Cox has gladly accepted the invitation to chair the group and was unveiled in the city this Monday morning, where it was also revealed that Munster and Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell and Riverdance composer Bill Whelan - both Freemen of the city - will join him on the governing body.
City manager Conn Murray personally selected the trio to manage the programme for 2014, declaring that they were “chosen to represent the areas within which they have excelled nationally and internationally that symbolise a broad approach to the understanding of culture, not just of Limerick, but of Ireland”.
A draft programme of events for the year long City of Culture initiative is expected to be announced this June, with a definite programme in place by late Autumn, Mr Cox explained.
The former TD and MEP said he was “delighted and honoured” to chair the 2014 Limerick National City of Culture group.
“The aim of the National City of Culture initiative is to deliver a programme of cultural events and engagement in Limerick for 2014, but also a programme which has a longer term positive impact,” he explained.
“The designation is also an opportunity to showcase what we know to be the real Limerick in terms of its personality. Such a designation by Government for the city is historic, it will provide a new direction for Limerick more than 800 years after its original charter to embody the potential of a city of culture encompassing Art, Design, Technology and Sport in all their myriad interacting and creative forms.
“The delivery of a National City of Culture within a year planning window is demanding but achievable. Part of my role as chair will be to listen to the wider community and develop from the ground up a programme of international significance for Limerick, for Munster and for Ireland.”
Mr. Cox also confirmed that the Director of the Arts Council, Orlaith McBride, has also accepted a position on the driving group.
A large number of people working in the arts community in Limerick - and other areas of business - will be appointed to the governing group to advise the trio and the programme of events for 2014.
For more on this story see tomorrow’s Limerick Chronicle newspaper, and our weekend editions.