A REMARKABLE man whose input into the life and civic tapestry of Kilkenny is immense was made a Freeman of the city at a special ceremony at Kilkenny Castle last Friday.
Mr Shortis, who was joined by family and friends for the momentous event was greeted by Mayor of Kilkenny Seán Ó hArgáin and then brought to the Long Gallery where the official ceremony took place.
The motion was put forward by Cllr John Coonan who described it as ‘a great honour to formally propose Pat Shortis as Freeman of Kilkenny City’.
“It is a privilege, a pleasure and an honour because Pat Shortis’s story is the story of an ordinary man who has done extraordinary things in his long and fulfilling life of 92 years’. Cllr Coonan remarked upon Mr Shortis’s ‘extraordinary generosity’ - a generosity that has seen him raise thousands of euros for numerous charities and his ‘generosity of heart that has brought smiles to the elderly and that has brought happiness and joy into hospitals and nursing homes’.
Pat also frequently visited St Canice’s Hospital and entertained people in the sanatorium on the Kells Road when TB was rife.
Cllr Paul Cuddihy, who seconded the motion also led the tributes recounting that in Maudlin Street in 1932 during the Eurcharistic Congress on ‘Ray’s wireless’ Pat had listened to his father in the choir.
Mr Shortis thanked everyone present adding that he felt it should address the audience as boys and girls as opposed to ladies and gentlemen. “Because I am sure I danced with most of your grandmothers in the Desart Hall,” he said.
He dedicated the honour to his late wife May, ‘who supported, encouraged and put up with me for over 50 years’.
Pat Shortis was born in 1921 to Joanie and Jack in a thatched house in Maudlin Street where he grew up with his late brother Con and his sister Daisy. His first job was doing a milk round for Sonny Meehan in Loughboy and at 15 years of age he started working in the Brewery like his father and grandfather before him and worked there until he retired thirty years ago.
Pat married May O’Gorman in 1956 and she was his rock and constantly encouraged him in his charitable endeavours. The couple had four children: Mary, Helen, Sean and Patrick. Sadly, after 50 years of marriage, May passed away in 2006.
Pat is also well known as being one half of The Wetlands Orchestra along with his great friend, Jim Coady. He was also a talented sportsman and captained the St John’s Minor County team to victory in the hurling championship of 1939 and is now an honorary member of O’Loughlins Hurling Club.
Other achievements in his life to date include being the longest performing wren boy in Irelands, the first ever Grandmaster of the city’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rehab People of the Year awards.