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Gilbert O’Sullivan granted Freedom of Waterford City and County

Gilbert O’Sullivan was made a Freeman of Waterford City and County at a ceremony in City Hall on Wednesday, March 27th.

Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. Joe Conway bestowed the honour on the Waterford born singer-songwriter whose career has spanned over five decades.

Cllr. Lola O’Sullivan formally proposed that the Freedom be conferred on Gilbert O’Sullivan, and the motion was seconded by Cllr. Joe Kelly.

Born on December 1st, 1946, on the Cork Road in the city, Gilbert’s family relocated to Wiltshire, and it was here that his musical journey began, playing the piano and honing his craft not through formal lessons, but playing by ear.

Gilbert’s first single Nothing Rhymed was released in 1970, an overnight success featuring in the Top 10 music charts across the UK and Europe.  His 1971 debut album Himself was littered with the most perfect examples of his art and craftsmanship. His second, 1972’s Back to Front, firmly cemented Gilbert amongst the world’s best, with Top 10 singles and No. 1’s around the world, including the classic Alone Again (Naturally) which topped the US charts for six weeks and earned him three Grammy nominations.

British recognition soon followed with the songs Clair and Get Down reaching the summit of the UK singles charts and his LP Back to Front topping the album charts.  In the same year at the 18th Ivor Novello Awards, Gilbert was named ‘Song Writer of the Year’.

Mayor Conway said “It is with great honour and pride that I, as the Mayor of Waterford City and County, extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to Gilbert O’Sullivan – a signal composer and performer from Waterford roots who has made an indelible mark on the world of modern music.

“Personally, as a fan of his work for a half-century now, I regularly enjoy his Berry Vest compilation as I drive the miles here and there – my personal favourite being the very sparse and captivating Miss my love today, but I also have a naughty chuckle still at Permissive Twit.

Mayor Conway added, “I could go on, detailing the milestones and accolades that Gilbert O’Sullivan has achieved throughout a career spanning fifty years. However, the essence of the man is captured not just in the length of his career, but in the depth of his impact on music and the hearts of those who have had the privilege to witness his journey.”

In proposing the motion Cllr. Lola O’Sullivan said, “It is a singular honour for me to propose the motion to admit Gilbert O’Sullivan to the Freedom of Waterford City and County in recognition of his enormous service to the music industry for the last fifty years.

“Waterford-born Gilbert has carved out a remarkable career with his unique blend of melody, wit, and surreal humour, earning global success and critical acclaim.”

Upon receiving Waterford’s highest accolade, Gilbert said, “I am truly honoured to be granted the Freedom of Waterford City and County.

“To be here today surrounded by family and friends is a very special moment and one I will never forget.”

The Freedom of Waterford City and County has been a coveted privilege and honour since civic government replaced military governors in 1195.  The Freedom allowed the recipient to trade freely within the city, and it was from among the freemen that members of the Council were chosen.  According to the Great Parchment Book, in order to be admitted to the freedom, one had to provide the Council with two half barges of stone, which was uses to build a wall around the city.

Honorary Freemen of Waterford include Isaac Butt, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon de Valera, John Tracy, Mary Robinson, Anna Manahan, Dan Mulhall, Henry de Bromhead and Prof. Louise Richardson.


Images:  Free to use – Noel Browne

1/2/4:  Gilbert O’Sullivan and Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr Joe Conway

5:         Gilbert and wife Aase, with Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr Joe Conway

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