London bridge stops for Kerryman's sheep crossing

London bridge stops for Kerryman's sheep crossing

Dan Tim O'Sullivan, London and Kerry, who was awarded the freedom of London two years ago arriving to fulfill his dream of driving the sheep over Southwark Bridge London with his wife Sheila, daughters Caroline, Julie, sons Tim, Daniel and Patsy with Casey, Elaine and James O'Sullivan with Alderman Vincent Keaveny on Sunday. Picture: Michelle Cooper Galvin

One of the world’s busiest cities paused briefly to allow a Kerryman tend to his flock.

Dan Tim O’Sullivan, from Gleesk in Kells, Co Kerry, was granted the Freedom of London in 2019 and toasted the honour by herding sheep through the UK metropolis.

The founder of the Danny Sullivan Group, which employs over 1,500 people, he was awarded the prestigious honour to recognise his success as a businessman and the charitable works he has undertaken in the city. 

The honour allows him certain benefits, one of which is the right to shuttle sheep over the River Thames on London Bridge.

However, due in part to the traffic chaos that would ensue should London Bridge be shut down, the lesser-known Southwark Bridge, has become the stand-in crossing.

Mr O’Sullivan was one of a number of freemen to take part in the celebration yesterday.

The tradition stems from medieval times when sheep farmers drove their sheep across the Thames to sell them at market.

Those who held the title of Freemen of the City were allowed to cross the bridge without having to pay the toll.

The practice died out, likely long before the car took over the city's streets, but was revived again in 2013 when the Worshipful Company of Woolmen arranged the first official Sheep Drive for freemen of the city. 

The event became a popular one and has continued since then, raising funds for the Woolmen’s Charitable Trust and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. 

Speaking on Radio Kerry, Mr O’Sullivan said he was delighted the event was revived.

“My family, my friends on both sides of the sea, a lot of them came over for it, my cousins are back from America,” he said, adding that a party was planned for after.

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