Published Tuesday, 19 March 2013
The Schindler's List star, who hails from Ballymena, Co Antrim, 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.
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 B.S. It's actually my worst nightmare."
He added: "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 U.S.) 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."
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.