What will Freedom of the City mean for Kellie Harrington, Ailbhe Smyth, and Mary Aiken?

By Fiona Frawley

June 13, 2022 at 4:14pm

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Will they be swanning around town with novelty sized keys at all times, free to hop behind the deli counter and make themselves a breakfast roll at any hour of the day?

Yesterday evening Olympian Kellie Harrington, activist Alibhe Smyth and Professor of Cyberpsychology Mary Aiken were awarded Freedom of Dublin City by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland, during a ceremony at Mansion House.

Kellie Harrington, who took home a gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics was awarded "for her unstinting work in the community, her caring exemplar and role modelling for young people and for her sporting achievements".

Activist and campaigner Ailbhe Smyth, who played a key role in Ireland's REPEAL movement was awarded for her work across the areas of " human rights, social justice and academia".

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Professor Mary Aiken was awarded for her important work in the areas of cyberpsychology, online safety and security.

But what will freedom of the city mean for these three influential women?

While no financial or other benefits are attached to the award, it does carry with it "significant prestige, as well as some interesting symbolic privileges and duties", according to DCC.

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These symbolic privileges include being exempt from tax on goods brought through the city gates, and permission to graze sheep on College Green and St Stephen’s Green (very handy for anyone with a flock at home). In ancient Irish times, Freedmen had a duty to defend the city and could be called into the militia at short notice.

To date, only 82 people have been awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin - the most recent recipient until now was Dr Tony Holohan who was awarded in June 2021. Other notable names on the list of awardees include John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa.

Header image via Twitter/Dublin City Council

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