The Freedom of the city of Limerick has been bestowed on Ireland and Munster rugby player Paul O’Connell at a ceremony in the city this afternoon.

The 32-year-old has captained Munster, Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions and is regarded as one of the best second row players in the world, and one of the most outstanding sportsmen of his generation.

Mayor of Limerick Cllr Jim Long said Mr O’Connell was an icon in today’s world for his contribution to the world of sport and in particular to the game of rugby.

He said he had served his city, province, and country in outstanding fashion throughout his career.

He said he was an incredible ambassador for Limerick and an inspiration to young and old.

Mayor Long said Mr O'Connell encompasses all that is outstanding and special about his native city of Limerick and its Freemen.

Mr O’Connell said he was truly humbled and surprised for the honour the city bestowed on him and that many of the lessons he learned in sport of training, commitment, and hard work were ones he learned and valued growing up in Limerick, a city of which he is very proud.

He dedicated his honour to all the coaches who had trained and mentored him across a number of sports since he was four years of age, and committed himself to working on behalf of the city in the future.