Legendary local entertainer Brendan Shine became only the second person ever to be accorded the freedom of Roscommon at the monthly meeting of Roscommon County Council on Monday last in Curraghboy, before a large crowd of friends, family and local people.
The singer and accordion player, whose best loved songs feature Roscommon, from the 'Carrots from Clonown' to 'Where The Three Counties Meet' joins former Defence Forces' Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Dermot Earley on the roll of honour for the accolade/
It's the highest the county can bestow on one of its own. The award was given in recognition of over 40 years in show business and, in turn, his promotion of the county all over the world during that time.
Speaking to the crowd, Mr Shine, who lives and farms in nearby Taughmaconnell, said as a proud Roscommon man, it was a "great privilege and honour to accept the Freedom of Roscommon".
Although he expressed his surprise at being chosen for the award, the singer, just back from the US, said he has always tried to promote the county since he began his career first began at a carnival way back in 1965 in Curraghboy.
Describing Roscommon people as famously friendly, generous and loyal, the entertainer pointed out that after touring he loves to come back to the county.
"It's a fantastic day, it's something I'll take to my grave," Brendan Shine concluded.
Mayor Tony Ward, who first suggested the entertainer for the award, said he rated Brendan Shine as a superstar who loved what he was doing. "He's a fine gentleman who loves his land and his roots. Come July, when the touring is over, he'll be back doing silage."
The Mayor also applauded his charitable work which Shine never seeks plaudits for but it is appreciated the length and breadth of Ireland.
Indeed, the singer will give his time for a charity function in Galway in July for the hospice, Mayor Ward highlighted.
"To me, Brendan Shine over the last 40 years has never changed.
He's free and easy among the people and farms away when he's not touring. He has been a tremendous ambassador for county Roscommon," Tony Ward explained, pointing out jokingly that he has a song about every area of Roscommon at this stage!
Roscommon County Manager Frank Dawson said the name of Brendan Shine was synonymous with Roscommon and he has done trojan work for the county over the years. Before international acts came to Ireland, the showbands were Irish musical culture, he added.
"Irish people packed into ballrooms and you were one of those we travelled to see," he enthused, wishing Brendan Shine, his wife Kathleen and family the best wishes of the county into the future.
The event was held in Curraghboy, the home of Mayor Tony Ward at his request to mark the end of his term of office as the county's first citizen.
President of St Brigid's GAA club Frank Kenny marked the occasion by presenting a crystal bowl to the outgoing Mayor and his wife Nora, thanking the Mayor for all his hard work over the last twelve months.