WE’RE NOT REALLY sure who would have stopped him going where he liked in the first place, but Paul O’Connell will be awarded with the freedom of Limerick City later this month.
The captain of Munster who has also led out Ireland and the Lions is a native of Shannon-side having played his club rugby with Young Munster.
The honour is unlikely to take much of the tarnish off Munster’s 16 – 22 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Ulster on Sunday. However, the lock is no less proud of his award.
“I’m always conscious when I’m playing for either Munster or Ireland that I’m also representing Limerick,” said O’Connell. “I’m very proud of Limerick and where I come from. I’m lucky to have played for Munster for the last 11 years and my upbringing in Limerick and the influences that I’ve had in Limerick has played a massive part in my success in rugby.”
“I’d also like to thank Limerick City Council for bestowing this huge honour on me and I’m looking forward to it immensely.”
The ceremony will take place at City Hall on Sunday 22 April whereupon O’Connell will become the 64th recipient of an honorary freedom to the south west city. Previous recipients include Eamon De Valera, John F Kennedy and Terry Wogan.
Mayor of Limerick, Jim Long, hailed O’Connell as wearing a “badge of honour” for the city and added:
“We want to recognise Paul’s outstanding contribution to Limerick, to Ireland and to sport. He is a proud Irish man, Munster man and a Limerick man.”
“This is the highest civic accolade that Limerick City Council can give to a man who is an inspiration to all of us in all walks of life both young and old.”