The Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Clonmel is usually reserved for well known dignataries or statesmen, 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 the town and have brought credit to the town by their contribution to the common good.
On Friday last, 1st June, 2012, President Michael D. Higgins, was conferred with the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Clonmel and became the 22nd person to accept the honour. Our ninth President became the fifth holder of the highest office in the land to be so bestowed following on from Sean T. O Ceallaigh, Eamon De Valera, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese.
The complete list of 22 recipients of the honour is as follows:
9th January, 1885:
Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891)
Nationalist political leader. Land reform agitator. Founder and leader of Irish Parliamentary Party. MP in British Parliament.
4th October, 1886:
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)
British Liberal Statesman. Prime Minister four times, more than any other other. Oldest British Prime Minister at 84. Gladstone Street in Clonmel named in his honour.
26th August, 1890:
John Dillon (1851-1927)
MP in British Parliament. Advocate of Irish nationalism. Last leader of Irish Parliamentary Party.
26th May, 1904:
Richard Alphonsus Sheehan (1845-1915)
Bishop of Waterford & Lismore from 1892 to 1915.
5th October, 1909:
Edward Meagher Condon (1841-1915)
Born Mitchelstown. Gallant American soldier and Irish patriot. Severly wounded at battle of St. Petersburg. Later joined Irish Republican Brotherhood (Fenians) in America. One of five charged at time of the Manchester Martyrs. Spent 12 years in prison. Died in New York.
5th October, 1909:
John O’Callaghan, Boston, Massachusetts.
2nd November, 1917:
Constance Markievicz (1868-1927)
Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. First woman to be elected to British House of Commons. One of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position.
30th June, 1934:
Richard Downey (1881-1953)
Born Kilkenny. English prelate of the Roman Catholic Church.
17th September, 1950:
President Sean Tomas O Ceallaigh
Took part in Easter Rising of 1916. Elected Sinn Fein MP for Dublin College in 1918. One of the founding members of Fianna Fail. TD, Minister, Ceann Comhairle of first Dail. Second President of Ireland, served two terms from 1945 to 1959.
10th January, 1951:
Daniel Mannix (1864-1963)
Born Charleville. Outspoken cleric in Ireland and later when Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia.
24th September, 1952:
Edward Wilfred F. Clancy.
6th June, 1953:
Thomas Quinlan (1896-1970)
Born Borrisoleigh. Prefect Apostolic, Choon Chun, South Korea from 1945 to 1966. Spent 30 years in ministry of the church in Asia.
23rd April, 1960:
Eamonn De Valera (1882-1973)
Rockwell College student and teacher. Took part in 1916 Rising. Sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment. Leader of Anti-Treaty side in Civil War. One of the founding members of Fianna Fail. TD. Taoiseach on three occasions The third President of Ireland, serving for two terms from 1959-1973.
9th August, 1962:
Michael Cardinal Browne, OP (1887-1971)
Born Grangemockler. Joined Order of Friars Preachers, known as Dominicans and rose to serve as Master General of the Order.
8th December, 1984:
Dr. Pat O’Callaghan (1905-1991)
Born Kanturk. Olympic gold medallist in 1928 and 1932 in hammer throwing event. The first time the tricolour was raised and Amhran na bhFiann was played at an Olympic Games ceremony was in Amsterdam in 1928 following O’Callaghan’s victory. Spent a lifetime as a doctor in Clonmel.
22nd April, 1989:
An tAthair Colmcille, Seamus O Conbhui, Order of Cistercians.
5th April, 1993:
President Mary Robinson (1944-)
Academic, barrister, Senator. The seventh President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997.
10th November, 1995:
Sr. Joachim Lombard (Sisters of Charity).
Born Clontarf. Entered order at 34 years. In 1945 arrived in Clonmel. In the 1960s was instrumental in establishing the Meals on Wheels. By 1995 it was estimated this service was providing 24,000 hot meals per year in the town. Died in 2002.
29th May, 1999:
President Mary McAleese (1951-)
Journalist, Barrister, served for two terms as Uachtaran na hEireann from 1997 to 2011.
5th April, 2003:
Born Clonmel. Gaelgeoir, German and Classical scholar. Journalist. Founder of Clonmel Theatre Guild. Producer with St. Mary’s Choral Society. Editor of ‘The Nationalist.’
25th March, 2004:
Sean Treacy (1923-)
Born Clonmel. Trade Union activist. Politician. First elected to Dail Eireann in 1961 as a Labour Party member. Served in 10 successive Dails, re-elected seven times and also three times automatically following stints as Ceann Comhairle of the Dail.