Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson was named the Irish Man of the Year in New York City yesterday (March 18).

The 60-year-old Taken star was given a standing ovation at New York City Hall as he received the Thomas Manton Irish Man of the Year Award.

As he stepped up to the podium to accept his award, Neeson said: "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 and 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, which is held annually in conjunction with Irish-American Heritage Month, also featured a performance by the cast of Broadway musical Once.