Liam Neeson awarded freedom of Ballymena

NORTHERN Irish actor Liam Neeson arrived in Ballymena yesterday to a jubilant welcome as he accepted the freedom of his home town.

The Hollywood star waded through a scrum of well-wishers as he arrived at the reception. “It is great to be back,” he said.

The star of Schindler’s List and Michael Collins began his career in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre and later joined the Abbey Theatre in Dublin before moving to London, then Hollywood.

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Neeson was spotted by the film director John Boorman while at the Abbey, subsequently appearing in the director’s film Excalibur in 1981.

Neeson was married to actress Natasha Richardson, who died in 2009 after suffering a head injury while skiing in Canada.