Mrs. Pirrie awarded freedom of the city of Belfast

The Times

BELFAST, APRIL 20

The freedom of the city of Belfast, unanimously voted by the council some
weeks ago, was formally presented to Mrs. Pirrie at the town-hall to-day in
the presence of a large and distinguished company. The municipal flag
floated above the hall in honour of the occasion, and the interior of the
building was decorated. After the resolution of the corporation conferring
the freedom had been read, the Lord Mayor, Sir Otto Jaffe, addressing Mrs.
Pirrie, said the resolution was the official expression of the thanks of the
city council, representing 360,000 inhabitants, but it could not possibly
convey to Mrs. Pirrie the feeling of intense gratitude the citizens of
Belfast and surrounding districts owed her for her successful efforts in
collecting the £100,000 to build and equip a new hospital to take the place
of the old Royal Hospital. The united effort of Mr. and Mrs. Pirrie had
resulted in a well-conceived hospital, embodying the most modern ideas,
utilizing every new invention, a noble structure answering in every way all
modern demands. The building as it now stood was acknowledged to be one of
the best-equipped hospitals in the world. Belfast had the honour of having
the building opened last year by their Majesties the King and Queen. The
Lord Mayor then presented Mrs. Pirrie with a casket containing an
illuminated copy of the resolution, and requested her to sign the roll of
honorary burgesses. Mrs. Pirrie, having accepted the casket and signed the
roll, thanked the citizens for the high honour they had conferred upon her.
The hospital was a standing monument to the generosity, philanthropy, and
devotion of the citizens of that great commercial capital. Being so closely
identified, through her husband, with one of their large industrial
establishments and brought into contact with some of the great commercial
leaders of their own and other countries, it was only natural that she
should have learned to take a deep interest in the great developments that
had taken place during the last two decades. Commerce was the life of a
country, and Belfast afforded a worthy illustration of that spirit of
enterprise and those qualities of industry, perseverance, and energy that
had made our great Empire what it was. They knew that until quite
recently---in fact, until the Prince of Wales after his colonial tour
utttered his famous warning that "England must wake up"---commerce was
regarded with little favour in some quarters. Even Cabinet Ministers looked
upon it with apathetic indifference, but thanks largely to the Imperial
instinct of the Prince, who dignified commerce by acknowledging its vital
importance, public opinion was developing, and it was now generally
recognized that this was the element upon which the Empire depended, and
that, therefore, it was in progressive, industrial communities such as
Belfast that our country's hope for the future lay. When Mrs. Pirrie had
resumed her seat the Lord Mayor called for three cheers for the first
honorary lady burgess of the city of Belfast, a request which was cordially
complied with.
 

Related Biographies:

William James Pirrie
Elizabeth Pirrie

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