John Byrne in front of Paisley Abbey

Legendary artist and playwright John Byrne is in line to receive his hometown’s highest honour – the Freedom of Renfrewshire. The Freedom of Renfrewshire is an honorary title and is the highest civic honour that can be bestowed upon an individual or group. It has only been awarded five times previously.

John Byrne was born in Ferguslie Park in Paisley in 1940 and is best known for writing The Slab Boys Trilogy – a set of plays telling the story of young-working class Scots in Paisley and inspired by his own experiences working in Stoddard’s Carpet Factory in Elderslie.

Alongside being an accomplished writer of stage and screen, John Byrne is known for his distinctive painting style and continues to paint and exhibit new work regularly.

John returned to Paisley on Saturday 22 February to celebrate his 80th year as part of the inaugural Paisley Book Festival. The sold-out event in Paisley Arts Centre featured readings from his plays and live music.

He will also bring his new musical play, Underwood Lane, to Paisley Arts Centre from 25-28 June for its world premiere, in partnership with Renfrewshire Leisure and Tron Theatre. The play tells the tale of a young skiffle band trying to make it and is written in memory of John’s Paisley buddy, Gerry Rafferty, who was born and brought up on the street.
Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “John is a celebrated playwriter, painter, printmaker and theatre designer and has put Paisley on the map. He continues to be committed to our local community and is treasured by citizens of Ferguslie Park, past and present, as well as the wider Renfrewshire community and its civic leaders. I’m delighted to offer him this honour and thank him for the contribution he has made to Renfrewshire.”

If approved, the Freedom of Renfrewshire will officially be awarded to John Byrne later this year. Find out more about the Freedom of Renfrewshire at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/freedomofrenfrewshire

John Byrne to get Honorary Title