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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Neeson to unveil patriot statue
Neeson appearing in The Phantom Menace
Neeson will unveil the statue in Cork
A touch of Hollywood is coming to Cork to mark the 80th anniversary of the death of Irish patriot Michael Collins.

Northern Ireland-born actor Liam Neeson is in Clonakilty to unveil a statue to Collins, who died in an ambush at the age of 32.

Neeson, from Ballymena in County Antrim, played Collins in Neil Jordan's 1996 biopic.

The idea for the statue in Collins's home town began as a millennium project, but after some delays it was decided to unveil it on the 80th anniversary on Thursday.


He was a military man and he would have prefered to leave the politics to others who were better equipped to do that

Traolach O'Donnabhain

Traolach O'Donnabhain, chairperson of the National Michael Collins Memorial Committee, said the area in which the statue would be sited was where the young Collins travelled daily going to school.

"Liam Neeson's portrayal of Michael Collins was fantastic. There were some historical inaccuracies in the film itself, but Liam Neeson's portrayal was outstanding."

Treaty debates

He said there was innuendo and many false reports about the leader's assassination.

"Having conducted a war here for five years, he was then prevailed upon to go to negotiate the treaty in London - and as he admitted himself, he was no politician.

"He was a military man and he would have prefered to leave the politics to others who were better equipped to do that."

Mr O'Donnabhain said it was an interesting historic fact that Michael Collins said in the treaty debates in the Irish parliament that in supporting it "we have achieved as much as we can at this time".
Liam Neeson: Civic reception
Liam Neeson: Civic reception

"Nearly 80 years on, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in the north, many of the nationalist leaders at the time echoed those words almost to a word - 'we have gained as much as we can at this time'."

The statue will be situated in the square of Collins's hometown and was sculpted by local man Kevin Holland.

The local council is holding a civic reception for Oscar-nominated Neeson, and a private function where he will meet and greet everyone involved in project.

The event gets under way at 1830 BST and Mr Neeson will unveil the statue at 2000 BST - the exact time Collins was gunned down.

The seven foot bronze statue depicts Michael Collins as he spoke at a 1922 general election rally in Clonakility.

Meanwhile, Liam Neeson is to star alongside Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Richard Curtis's directorial debut Love Actually.

Curtis, who wrote Notting Hill and the Blackadder series, is to start shooting the movie in September.

Neeson and Linney previously starred together in the Broadway production of the Crucible.

See also:

21 Mar 02 | N Ireland
13 Nov 00 | Entertainment
15 Jul 99 | Entertainment
08 Mar 00 | N Ireland
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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