Limerick’s ceremonial red robes a thing of the past

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Mayor Kathleen Leddin with museum curator Brian Hodkinson at the Franciscan's Church in Henry Street. Picture: Sean Curtin
THE sight of councillors wearing robes on ceremonial occasions is a thing of the past now the local authorities have merged after the recent local elections.

THE sight of councillors wearing robes on ceremonial occasions is a thing of the past now the local authorities have merged after the recent local elections.

Mayor Kathleen Leddin yesterday presented her historic red robes to the Limerick Museum and Archives which is moving to the former Franciscan Church on Henry Street.

It will be preserved by Limerick Museum and Archives and displayed among other rare items in the city’s history including a mace bearer’s uniform and a civic sword- regarded as one of the oldest in the country, having been bequeathed to Limerick by Queen Elizabeth I.

Mayor Leddin said she was “deeply honoured to have been able to serve as the first citizen of my home city”.

“The Museum’s collections are a mirror to Limerick’s social and economic past and are a treasure for the people of Limerick and its visitors.

“I’m delighted that the Mayoral Robe will now take its place among these wonderful heirlooms from our past.

“As the 800-year story of one of the oldest local authorities in Ireland comes to an end, a new chapter begins in the story of one of the largest local authorities in the State.

“I believe the new Council is well placed to play a leading role in the economic development of Limerick City and County for many years to come.”

From the 13th century onwards, the Mayor and council of Limerick were treated as akin to a local king and parliament.

Robes and regalia were in daily use but later evolved into ceremonial items. In recent times, the Mayor and members of City Council would ‘robe’ for formal events such as Civic Receptions, Freedom of the City awards and for some funerals.

This Friday sees the first meeting of the newly established Limerick City and County Council, a new political and administrative structure that has been created as a result of the merging of the two local authorities. Councillors of the newly merged authority will not wear robes.

The council is in discussions to finalise the details on the lease of the Franciscan Church for use as a museum and it is planned to move Limerick Museum and Archives to the new premises.

The Museum holds comprehensive collections relating to Limerick and the Franciscan Church and the move will allow the Museum and Archives to showcase the collections which range from Limerick Lace to the history of the Independence Movement.

Museum curator Brian Hodkinson said the new Museum and Archive will “enrich Limerick’s cultural infrastructure”.

“When we move to the Franciscan Church, the fantastic collection of lace for example will then be possible to view and enjoy properly,” he explained.

“The history of the city and the identity of Limerick is held by the Museum and Archives and the local authority is determined to display these historical treasures in an accessible location.

“In the coming months, we look forward to relocating to our prime location in the city with a view to further promoting the rich history and heritage of Limerick.”