Rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has been conferred with the Freedom of Cork City to mark his immense contribution to rugby over 25 years, writes Eoin English.
Hundreds of guests attended the ceremony in City Hall this afternoon to honour the former Munster and Ireland number 10.
Mr O'Gara was joined by his wife, Jessica, and their five children, Rua, Molly, JJ, Zac and Max, to receive the highest civic honour which can be bestowed by the city council upon a person who has distinguished themselves and is deemed worthy to have their name enrolled on the List of the Freemen of the city — a custom which dates to the 14th century.
O'Gara said: "I didn't expect this and it's a little bit surreal but unbelievably humbling. It's fantastic. It will be a great day and will be hugely special for the family. It means everything."
— Cork City Council (@corkcitycouncil) May 11, 2017
Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill said he felt it fitting that the city would honour O’Gara for his immense contribution to rugby at all levels over quarter of a century — from school and club level in Cork, to province and international level, where he was capped 128 times for Ireland — just five behind Brian O’Driscoll.
Six flags representing all the teams he has played with during his playing career —Pres, Cork Con, UCC, Munster, Ireland and the Lions — flew outside City Hall during the ceremony.
Although born in San Diego in California, O’Gara was raised on the southside of Cork, and attended Presentation Brothers College where he played schools rugby.
He later played with Cork Constitution before being capped by Munster and Ireland. He is still the leading scorer in the Heineken Cup with 1,365 points during a 16-year career with Munster.
He is now based in Paris where he coaches with Racing 92.
He joins previous Freemen of Cork, including Adi Roche, Roy Keane, Sonia O’Sullivan, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Niall Toibín, Peter Barry, Albert Reynolds, John Major, Jack Lynch, Peter Barry, Mary McAleese, and US presidents John F Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson.