The Nationalist 10 July 1992
Osborne declared freeman of Naas
He’s already a Kentucky Colonel and an honorary member of the Choctaw Indian tribe in Oklahoma and last week Kildare’s first man of horses Michael Osborne added another honour to his credit when he became the honorary freeman of Naas.
The honour was bestowed on him by Naas Urban District Council at an historic function in the council’s new chamber when the Mace of Naas, the symbol of authority, was brought to the town hall for the first time.
Mr. Osborne and his wife Anne, family and guests were greeted in the foyer of the Town Hall by chairman Timmy Conway and a traditional music reception provided by the McGrath family.
History of Naas
This was followed by a brief resume of the history of Naas back to the time of St. Patrick, performed by John O’Loughlin, Stan Hickey and Maire Murphy from the Moat Club with a musical interlude by Josie Byrne.
Paying tribute to Mr. Osborne, Timmy Conway said it was a great thing to be able to combine the love of your life with your profession, as Michael Osborne has done. He outlined his love for and enthusiasm for football and the role he played in securing the services of Mick O’Dwyer.
He also pointed out his involvement in the breeding industry as manager of Kildangan Stud and his role in bringing the National Stud to the forefront of international breeding and his initiation of the twinning arrangement between Kildare and Lexington.
“Your invitation to twin Kildare and Lexington has given this country an international platform,” said Mr. Conway. He paid tribute to Mr. Osborne’s hard work, dedication, sense of good humour and his commitment to his family.
Quoting from Kipling he said the words “if you can walk among kings and never lose the common touch than you are a man my son,” aptly summed up Michael Osborne.
Replying Mr. Osborne recalled his school days in Naas at the Convent of Mercy, the Green School and the Moat School. He said he was extremely proud of Naas, in particular its cultural aspects boasting such groups as the Moat Club and the Nas Na Riogh Singers as well as its sporting traditions.
He said he was humbled to be selected as the first freeman of the town in centuries when he considered the many fine Naas people who had gone before him.
Naas had changed considerably since he knew it in the 1960s he said. “You don’t see many Naas men anymore,” he added. “Many of them learnt to write in Power’s bookies office. The first thing they learnt to write were the letters ‘WIN’, graduating to ‘double’ and ‘treble’.” He also recalled the glory days of Naas football when it boasted five members of the winning Kildare team who took home the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time.
Looking to the future he said “I believe we are on the threshold of something great in the sporting field. If Kildare can land a senior football title it will be a catalyst for development in the county,” he added.
He pointed out that being appointed freeman was not the first honour bestowed on him. Some years ago when he was manager of the National Stud the grateful father of one of the students who was a Choctaw Indian had made him an honorary member of the tribe in 1982.
Touch me not
The chances of anyone being allowed to touch the ceremonial Mace of Naas when it was brought to the town hall last week for the ceremony to declare Michael Osborne freeman of Naas was nil.
The silver mace, which dates from 1650, was on loan to the UDC for the occasion from the National Museum and the only man from the museum who was suitably attired in white gloves could handle it.
The ace, which was for lost over 100 years, was the centre of attention as the councilors and guests vied to have their photos taken with the historic piece. Security was tight and it was given a Garda escort from the town hall to the Bank of Ireland where it remained under lock and key in the vault before being returned to the museum on Friday.