What’s in a name?

Shannon Bridge“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.



However, in the Treaty City in the year 2014 it would appear that not everyone shares the same world view as the great Bard.

What’s in a name? A great deal it would appear, and especially if our pals at Limerick City Council have anything to say on the matter.

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The Limerick Post recently reported that City Councillor Pat Kennedy proposed a motion to rename the Shannon Bridge as the ‘John Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge’ and the area at Merchant’s Quay in the vicinity of Limerick City Hall and St Mary’s Cathedral, as ‘Brian Ború Square’.

There is logic behind Cllr Kennedy’s thinking. JFK had close ancestral ties with Limerick what with the Fitzgerald family hailing from Bruff. He was also a Freeman of Limerick and visited the city during his historic trip to Ireland in 1963.

Meanwhile, 2014 marks the 1000th anniversary of Brian Ború’s death following his victory over those dastardly Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf. The King of Munster and the last great High King of Ireland was also born on the banks of the River Shannon at nearby Killaloe.

City councillors obviously thought Cllr Kennedy’s motion was a good one because they unanimously voted in favour of gauging public opinion on it.

Cllr Kennedy commented at the time, “I think it would be appropriate for Limerick City Council to honour and commemorate appropriately JFK and Brian Ború for their extraordinary contributions to the advancement of Limerick, Irish and International affairs.”

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kathleen Leddin, responded, “Elected Members of Limerick City Council carefully considered the proposal put forward and have decided that the people of Limerick should be consulted. I would urge anyone with an opinion on the matter to make a submission so as to guide the Council in its future deliberations on the proposal.”

Right now, the jury is still out on the people of Limerick’s views on the proposed renaming of two local landmarks which was floated into the public domain by City Council last month. However, after reporting on the motion in recent weeks a cross section of our readers were quick to air their opinions online and most of them weren’t too enamoured if truth be told.

Sure, some liked the proposal. Others felt there was no need for either location to be renamed and were angry at the notion of a name change for the ‘Shannon Bridge’. Many suggested famous Limerick folk such as Frank McCourt, Kate O’Brien, Richard Harris, JP McManus and Ger McDonnell as more suitable candidates than the proposed JFK and Brian Ború.

Others were more enthused. Too enthused if truth be told. In fact, over the last few weeks I’ve heard some really daft, innocuous suggestions from people to rename the Shannon Bridge after everyone from Dolores O’Riordan to Terry Wogan to Dessie O’Malley, Celia Holman Lee and Paul O’Connell. I kid you not!

Other contenders bandied about included Willie O’Dea, Emma O’Driscoll, Andy Lee, Leanne Moore, Jan O’Sullivan and Jimmy Carr. I even considered throwing my own name into the hat at one point, they were being thrown around with such wanton abandon.

But hell, why not throw Che Guevara, Pope John Paul II, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Katie Price into the mix? They’ve all passed through this neck of the woods too!

The Limerick Post also scoped out a lesser camp of insurgents. This faction shuddered down their spines and had real moments of deja vu which sparked the thought ‘oh, here we go again!’ when news reached them of Cllr Kennedy’s proposal.

Considering City Council’s tenuous track record in regard to projects such as the Opera Centre, Richard Harris statue on Bedford Row and not to mention City of Culture, you can understand why there would be alarm bells ringing in some quarters.

Is the renaming of the Shannon Bridge and area at Merchant’s Quay in front of City Hall going to be remembered as another cringe moment where we got it terribly wrong and set ourselves up to be the brunt of a joke?

Well, hopefully not. Especially, if you made your views known in writing to City Council’s Corporate Service Department by their February 10 deadline.

The Limerick Post is now patiently waiting for white smoke to rise over City Hall to find out their verdict.

Watch this space!