Liam Neeson named Irish Man of the Year

Updated: Mar 20, 2013, 09:04 AM IST

London: `Schindler`s List` star Liam Neeson has been named the Irish Man of the Year.

The 50-year-old actor, who hails from Ballymena in Northern Ireland, was given a standing ovation at New York City Hall as he accepted the Thomas Manton Irish Man of the Year Award from Christine C Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, reported Contactmusic.

Neeson joked about his nerves as he stepped up to the podium, telling the audience, "There`s a popular assumption that actors are very good public speakers. It`s absolute BS. It`s actually my worst nightmare."

"I`m delighted and thrilled to be here... Let me say what an honour it is to accept this Irish Man Of The Year Award. I`m humbled to join a distinguished group of past Manton award recipients, (including US) Senators Ted Kennedy, George Mitchell...

"Tonight is a great example of the Irish-American tradition for commitment to public service, the Irish-American commitment to community and helping others. I`m truly humbled, so thank you," he added.

The event, held annually in conjunction with Irish-American Heritage Month, also featured a performance by the cast of Broadway musical Once.

The ceremony came on a poignant day for Neeson - it was the fourth anniversary of the death of his actress wife Natasha Richardson, who passed away in 2009 after suffering a head injury while skiing in Canada.