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Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 01:01 GMT
Dublin's top accolade for U2
U2 pose with the Mayor of Dublin, Mary Freehill
U2 pose with the Mayor of Dublin, Mary Freehill
Thousands of U2 fans filled the centre of Dublin on Saturday to see their heroes made freemen of the Irish capital.

The four, together with manager Paul McGuinness, were given an honour previously bestowed on United States presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

A crowd of 11,000 thronged a square in the Smithfield area of Dublin to witness the ceremony, in which the city's lord mayor, Mary Freehill, handed out certificates to the five.

The band were also presented with Waterford Crystal copies of Joshua trees, denoting one of their album chart successes.

Absent friends

And Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, was made a freeman of Dublin in absentia. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate's honour was collected by her son Kim Aris.

Ms Suu Kyi, 54, remains under virtual house arrest in Rangoon after the ruling military junta refused to accept her party's landslide election victory in 1990.

Bono with Kim Aris, Aung San Suu Kyi's son
Bono with Kim Aris, Aung San Suu Kyi's son
U2 were planning to give a free open-air concert to Dubliners to mark the occasion but they are in the middle of recording a new album and said they did not have the time to arrange the concert.

The band's lead singer Bono said: "We are having a hell of a time of it trying to put out an album this year - that's why we could not play a gig in Smithfield.


"But we regard this as a very big deal for us, and we are very humbled by it. It's humbling and it's fantastic."

In the end the band relented and played four of their most famous songs after the crowd begged them to perform.

Bono first got together with Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton in 1976 but U2 was not born until the early 1980s. The band went on to achieve massive success first in Ireland, then the UK, the US and eventually worldwide.

Eventually they emulated and eclipsed Dublin's first great rock exports, Thin Lizzy.

Mrs Freehill, who admitted being a long-time U2 fan, said: "In a lot of ways they put Dublin on the map when the city was not as popular as it is now."

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29 Dec 99 | Entertainment
U2 for free in Dublin
03 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Capital honour for U2
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