Freedom of the City conferred on two inspirational icons


Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Christy Burke, will confer the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin on Brother Kevin Crowley and John Giles on Saturday 28th February 2015. The ceremony will take place in the Round Room, Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 at 8pm.

The Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council are paying tribute to Brother Kevin Crowley and John Giles in recognition of their work in the fields of social justice and sport. Brother Kevin Crowley has been providing people who are most in need with food and shelter for almost fifty years through his work at the Capuchin Centre in the heart of Dublin.

John Giles has had a distinguished career in football that has included 59 caps for Ireland. In 2003, he was winner of a UEFA’s Jubilee Award which named him best Irish player of the past fifty years.  

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said “The Freedom of the City is the highest Civic honour Dublin City can bestow. It is a privilege for me to confer the Freedom on these two most deserving recipients, Brother Kevin Crowley and John Giles. I have known Brother Kevin for many years and have always been inspired by the invaluable work that he carries out each and every day at the Capuchin Centre in the city. John has been a true leader in his sporting life and has achieved greatness through his skill both as a player and as a manager. By giving this award the city is acknowledging their unique contribution”.  

Brother Kevin Crowley said “I love the work I am doing. My real goal in life is to help those that are in need and I would hope to keep going at that for as long as I can. I feel very honoured and proud to accept the Freedom of the City and it’s a privilege to accept it on behalf of homeless people and people in need.”

John Giles said “I played football because I loved it and enjoyed it. I didn’t set out to get awards like the Freedom of the City. Anything like this comes as a surprise. As far as I am concerned I was doing my job and I enjoyed it. It is an extra bonus and a great honour. It’s great for my family and friends and it’s great for the football community.”

The Freedom has previously been conferred on 78 persons ranging from Presidents to Prisoners of Conscience to people in Sports and Entertainment. The first recipient of the Freedom of the City was Isaac Butt in 1876. The most recent recipients were Brian O’ Driscoll and Fr. Peter McVerry in 2014.

Brother Kevin Crowley and John Giles will be presented with a gift from the city specially commissioned for the occasion called “Castles”. The pieces, by artist Michele Hannan, are made of ceramic and glass on a stone base. They will both also receive an inscribed scroll.


For further information contact:

Dublin City Council Media Relations Office T: (01) 222 2170 M: 087 740 0277.




For information on the Freedom of the City see:


Notes to the Editor:


The Lord Mayor of Dublin nominates people for the Freedom of the City. Any nominations are then brought before a meeting of the City Council where it must be ratified by a majority vote.


Biography for Brother Kevin Crowley ofm cap

Brother Kevin was born in 1935 and grew up in Kilcolman, West Cork. He was educated at Kilcolman National School and later at Bandon Vocational School. The family home was a house of hospitality with people calling very often and it was this ethos of Christian caring and sharing that shaped Kevin’s early childhood. Kevin began working in the signal Department of CIE at the railway in Bandon but soon discovered his calling to the religious life.


In 1958 after seeing an ad in the “Southern Star” newspaper he applied to join the Franciscan Order and was accepted as a candidate, entered the Capuchin Order and after attending a Mission study became a fully professed member of the Order in the early 1960’s. His first job in the Order was in the friary in Rochestown where he looked after the novices and a few years later he was posted to the friary in St. Mary of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin.


Soon after his arrival in Dublin Brother Kevin witnessed people leaving hostels early in the morning, with nowhere to go and with nothing to eat. As everyone who knows him would agree, Kevin is tenacious, and with his usual energy, he gained permission from the Order, was allocated a tiny room at the back of the friary in Bow Street, and in 1969, with the help of a few stalwart volunteers, no money and very little resources the Centre started. The ethos of the Centre was to relieve the hardship endured by homeless people and help those who were in most need. For almost fifty years this objective has and continues to be achieved every day at the Centre through the commitment, dedication and humanitarian work carried out by Brother Kevin and his team.


The Capuchin Centre is not only a place for people in need of food and shelter it is fundamentally an oasis, offering peace and security for those who seek refuge from the reality of a life on the streets. At the heart of the Centre is the Capuchin Franciscan ethos of an “Open Door” policy where people are welcomed in with open arms and treated sensitively with dignity, privacy and respect.

In the first years of its foundation, the Centre fed fifty people a day, today a staggering seven hundred people are fed each day and 1,700 food parcels are distributed each week. Although the Centre receives some Government Funding, it relies heavily on the kindness and goodwill of donations from the public. It is a remarkable achievement for Brother Kevin, his staff, and his team of volunteers that in the current climate of high costs and extra demand on services the Capuchin Centre has never once turned anyone away.

Along with providing hot meals and food parcels, each week the Centre also has numerous important facilities available such as shower areas and Medical services which include a drop-in G.P., a nurse, a Dental clinic and Counselling services. It also has a designated Family area where parents and children can enjoy a nutritious meal in comfort and safety.


In 2009 Brother Kevin received the RDS Honorary Life Membership for his work in the Centre and for his significant contribution to homeless people in Ireland. In 2010 during her term of office, Emer Costello presented him with a Lord Mayor’s Award to acknowledge his work at the Centre. He has been referred to as “a living saint” by those who know and love him and without doubt St. Francis lives and breathes at the Centre.


Brother Kevin’s unshakeable trust in God has been the cornerstone of his life and has stood the test of time through the difficult and sometimes traumatic problems that he has faced with such courage during his life of service to people in need.

The Freedom of the city acknowledges and celebrates the life-changing and compassionate work carried out by Brother Kevin.


“In an ideal world I would love to see our streets free of homeless people and everyone, especially the poor and underprivileged, treated equally with the greatest respect and dignity.” Brother Kevin Crowley


Biography for John Giles

John Giles was born in 1940 and grew up in Ormond Square, in inner city Dublin, where he developed much of the skills that would assist him in becoming a professional footballer. John was born into a footballing family. His father Dickie played for Bohemians in the 1920s, and successfully managed Drumcondra during the late 1940s and early 1950s. His uncle Matt managed Transport F.C. to FAI Cup success in 1950.

While playing schoolboy football in Dublin John was spotted by Manchester United scout, Billy Behan, and invited to join Manchester United FC at Old Trafford in 1956. After progressing through the ranks at United, John made his first team debut in 1959. Selection for the Republic of Ireland also came early in his career, just short of his 19th birthday. He made his first appearance in an Ireland shirt against Sweden, on the 1st November 1959 in Dalymount Park in a game that Ireland won 3-2.

John became a regular in the Manchester United first team over the next four years, and played in the team alongside Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, Noel Cantwell, and Tony Dunne. Despite successes John felt his future would be best served elsewhere and requested a transfer from United. This was granted and in 1963 he moved to Leeds United FC.      

When John joined Leeds United, they were a second division team, in a city largely dominated by rugby. Over the next twelve years John evolved into one of the finest central midfielders in England. After winning the second division championship in 1963-64, and gaining promotion to the first division, Leeds became the most consistent team in English football during his time with the Club. They won the first division league championship twice, two Fairs (now UEFA) cups, the FA cup and the league cup. John played in the European Cup Final, the Fairs Cup Final, and the European Cup Winners Cup and in three FA Cup Finals. John made 525 appearances for Leeds United, scoring 115 goals before leaving in 1975.          

John became player manager of the Irish International team in 1973 and continued in these combined roles when he joined West Bromwich Albion (WBA) as player manager in 1975. During his first season at WBA, they were promoted to the first division.

In 1977 John left WBA to join Shamrock Rovers where he led them to win the FAI Cup in his first season with the club. John resigned as manager of the Irish International team in 1980 and the following year took up the opportunity of coaching the Vancouver Whitecaps in the North American Soccer League. He was named coach of the year by his fellow NASL coaches in 1982.

John’s reputation is without parallel in Ireland after a distinguished career that included 59 caps for Ireland and his world-wide standing in the game was celebrated when, in 2003, he was winner of a UEFA’s Jubilee Award as the best Irish player of the past fifty years.


In 1986 John joined RTE as a panellist, with Eamon Dunphy, commenting on the football coverage. This proved to be a very successful pairing and both are still working as RTE panellists.


The John Giles Foundation, the only one of its kind in Ireland, was established in 2010 to help tackle some of the most significant social challenges facing communities today. Its aim is to facilitate positive social change by using the power of football to build community cohesion, promote health, and encourage lifelong participation and learning.


John considers the freedom of Dublin as a great honour for himself, his friends and family, and the soccer community.

“I grew up, like many of us did, playing on the street. We were just having fun and had never heard of professional football. I never dreamt of where it would take me, or realised what a difference the sport was making to our community. Today it’s a different story, with different rules, and now more than ever people at risk need our support.” John Giles



Gifts presented to recipients


The Award which will be presented to the two recipients is called ‘Castles’, specially commissioned for the Freedom of the City, and was made in Ireland by Michele Hannan.  The pieces are made of ceramic and glass on a stone base.


From Dublin, Michele Hannan is an artist at the forefront of her art form. She specialised in ceramics at the National College of Art and Design, gaining a BA honours degree in craft design in 1992.


Following graduation, Michele travelled widely in Asia, Australia and the United States and this experience of diverse cultures is evident in her work today.


She has developed an extensive body of work including awards, sculptural vessels, mirrors, decorative bowls and candleholders. The rich combination of colours in the glazes enhances these pieces. The theme throughout is based on the Coral Reef forms and colours.  


Each piece is individually handmade by Michele using slabs of white stoneware clay, manipulated and modelled, then bisque fired up to 1250c. Michele uses a combination of glazes, molten glass and luster firings to complete her pieces.