President Higgins receives Freedom of Cork

President Michael D Higgins has received the Freedom of Cork City.

The honour was bestowed on him by the Lord Mayor Catherine Clancy in a private ceremony at City Hall this afternoon.

The award, dates from the 14th century, is given to persons distinguished for public service and they become Honorary Burgesses of the City.

Prior to the reform of the Cork Corporation in 1841, the city awarded the distinction to prominent individuals such as Dean Swift and Captain Richard Roberts, who navigated the ‘Sirius’ the first steamship to cross the Atlantic from Europe Cobh to New York in 1838.

Due to a fire in the Courthouse in 1891, very few early documents are still available, except some few items that have recently come to light.

Others awarded the accolade include Sean T. O'Kelly, John F. Kennedy, Roy Keane, Mary Robinson, Sonia O'Sullivan, US Senator George Mitchell and Eamon de Valera.

Lord Mayor of Cork Catherine Clancy explained why President Higgins was chosen.

"I did give a lot of thought as to the person that I would pick, the calibre of the person. For me, Michael D Higgins has been a person who lived in his time, dealt with issues that were part of his time, difficult issues and was also a wonderful public servant - never afraid to raise difficult issues nationally and internationally" she said.

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