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President Higgins follows in Bill Clinton and Terry Wogan's footsteps and gets freedom of his birthplace

President Higgins was born in Limerick on 18 April 1941.

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, awarded Freedom of Limerick President Michael D Higgins with an artwork painted by the late Jack Donovan which was presented to him by Cathaoirleach Kevin Sheahan Source: Diarmuid Greene/Fusionshooters

Updated 6pm

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D. Higgins was today bestowed with the Freedom of Limerick City.

President Higgins was born in Limerick on 18 April 1941.

He follows in the footsteps of previous recipients Eamon De Valera, Bill Clinton, John F Kennedy, JP McManus and Terry Wogan.

Contribution to Limerick 

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, awarded Freedom of Limerick President Michael D Higgins and Former Mayor of Limerick Frank Prendergast Source: Diarmuid Greene/Fusionshooters

The honour is reserved for those who have made exceptional or unique contributions to the common good or to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the business, commercial, educational or cultural life of Limerick.

Limerick City and County Council agreed to award the Freedom of Limerick to President Higgins in August.

Cathaoirleach of Limerick City and County Council, Councillor Kevin Sheahan said at the time:

President Higgins is renowned for cherishing and promoting our national culture in all its diversity and richness. We want to celebrate and recognise the President’s unique contribution to Irish life, particularly as he is the sole patron of Limerick City of Culture.

A Limerick man 

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, awarded Freedom of Limerick President Michael D Higgins and John Collins Source: Diarmuid Greene/Fusionshooters

Speaking at the ceremony today, President Higgins said it was a very special day for him as a Limerick man.

He recalled some of his family history, of how he was baptised in St. Munchin’s Church and how his father rented a premises as a pub in Little Catherine Street and later bought a pub at old number 3 Upper William Street.

In the succeeding years, due to illness and the economic circumstances of the time, he, my mother and my sisters faced difficult times as he faced unemployment and my parents and my two sisters moved constantly between a number of rented flats in the city: the journey that began where we were all born in 27 Belfield Park, and went on through Upper Gerald Griffin Street, back to old number 7 Upper William Street, a retail miscalculation as people were on ration books, then on to 3 Landsdowne Gardens (otherwise known as the Burma Road), Laurel Villas, upstairs in 10 Coleraine Terrace, and finally, 24 Elm Place, Rathbane.My brother and I had been brought from Limerick to our uncle and aunt’s home in Ballycar, Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co. Clare in August 1946.We were 5 and 4, and we visited Limerick from time to time, including visiting at times of excitement such as the great Todd’s fire which changed the city.

He paid tribute to the council and to Limerick City of Culture, of which he is patron. However, while he said it was a time for celebration for Limerick he said many Limerick families are going hard times.

“The character and the solidarity and care for each other among the people of this city is well reflected,” he said.

First published 0.859am

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