“To become a Freeman of the City does not bring with it any financial benefit, however, the prestige and honour it carries is immense. It is wonderful for me personally to be in this position as Dublin’s First Citizen, to pay tribute to Ronnie Delany and Bob Geldof, two highly deserving recipients”, said the Lord Mayor. “The contribution Ronnie Delany has made to Irish athletics is enormous, he has without doubt inspired the world class Irish athletes that followed in his footsteps to compete and win against the world’s best, just as he had done. Bob Geldof has achieved so much as a humanitarian over the past 20 years, applying himself resolutely and whole-heartedly as rock star communicator to relieving the plight of poverty in the world’s poorest countries”, she said.
The Freedom has previously been conferred on 72 persons ranging from Presidents to Prisoners of Conscience to people in Sports and Entertainment. Honorary Freedom of the City is the highest award in the City’s gift and is conferred very rarely. The first recipient of the Honorary Freedom was Isaac Butt in 1876. Subsequent recipients include Pope John Paul II, President Bill Clinton, Count John McCormack, Gay Byrne, Dr. Patrick Hillary, Nelson Mandela, rock group U2, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Kevin Heffernan.
Ronnie Delany and Bob Geldof were presented with a gift from the City, provided by Waterford Crystal, the world’s leading luxury crystal brand. A globe was chosen in each case to symbolise the achievements of each recipient in a universal context. The Olympic symbol pays tribute to Ronnie Delany’s wonderful gold medal win in the 1,500 metres in the 1956 Olympic Games. Africa is emphasised on the globe to highlight Bob Geldof’s untiring work to address the plight of poverty in the world’s poorest countries. Each prestigious crystal piece stands at 26.5cm tall and took the expert skill of a Waterford master-cutter over eight weeks to perfect. The intricate detail, engraving and deep cutting make these one-off pieces very special, providing a fitting acknowledgement to the recipients influence and impact on the world stage.