‘Huge congratulations’ as Irish community leader Seamus McGarry receives Freedom of City of London

‘Huge congratulations’ as Irish community leader Seamus McGarry receives Freedom of City of London

IRISH community leader Seamus McGarry has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

The Kilkenny native has been a leading figure among the Irish diaspora in London and further afield for more than 50 years.

Seamus McGarry receives his Freedom of the City of London documentation

Born in Johnstown, he moved to Britain in 1957 – where he spent his first 20 years hurling with the GAA before setting his sights on community and cultural projects.

He was involved in establishing the Federation of Irish Societies – which is now named Irish in Britain - and chaired the organisation for 10 years during some of the most politically difficult times for the Irish in Britain.

He went on to be involved in an array of organisations including the Ireland Fund of Great Britain (IFGB), the Safe Start Foundation, the Irish Cultural Centre, the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester and Irish Heritage.

Seamus McGarry was joined by friends and family as he received his Freedom of the City of London (Pic: DFA.ie)

Last year he retired from the Board of IFGB after 34 years.

He was presented with a letter of thanks from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and a first edition copy of Seamus Heaney's District & Circle “in honour of his lifetime of service to Ireland and the Irish diaspora”.

In 2013 he was one of the recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish abroad.

Issued annually, the awards recognise service given to Ireland or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland.

Seamus McGarry received his Freedom of the City of London this week (Pics: DFA.ie)

This week Mr McGarry received the Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony held at the prestigious Guildhall.

Congratulating Mr McGarry, the Irish Embassy in London said: “Huge congratulations to Séamus McGarry, who was awarded the freedom of the City of London.”

“Ambassador Fraser was delighted to be on hand to celebrate with Séamus, as he was recognised for his lifelong contributions to the Irish community in Britain.”

The Luton Irish Forum (LIF) have also paid tribute, stating: “Seamus has been a trustee of numerous Irish charities, e.g. The Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith and The Ireland Fund of Great Britain.

“He's raised the profile and was instrumental in the funding of Gaelic sports in the UK and he's a longstanding supporter of LIF.

“Congratulations Seamus on this well deserved honour.”

Irish Ambassador to Britain, Martin Fraser and his wife Deirdre also attended the ceremony

Mr McGarry was joined by family and friends to celebrate the occasion, which took place in the historic Guildhall building, which is the home of the City of London Corporation.

One of the City’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients, who were also required to join a Livery company, to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.