Liam Neeson donates Gangs of New York Celtic cross to Irish bar The Dead Rabbit

Sean Muldoon, co-owner of The Dead Rabbit in New York, with actor Liam Neeson and the cross from Gangs of New York. Picture from The Dead Rabbit/Facebook 
Jennifer Maloney

LIAM Neeson appears to be quite "Taken" with one of New York’s hippest Irish bars – and has even donated a unique piece of movie memorabilia.

The Ballymena native was visiting The Dead Rabbit, which is owned by north Belfast men Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon, when he surprised them with the film prop.

He presented the bar owners with a Celtic battle cross he wielded in the opening scenes of the Martin Scorsese directed epic.

The Dead Rabbit is named after the infamous Irish-American street gang which controlled much of Lower Manhattan during the 1850s.

The bar, which is located close to Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan, is famed for it’s extensive drinks menu, Irish decor and traditional sawdust floor.

Neeson starred as the leader of the gang in the 2002, alongside Daniel Day-Lewis,  Brendan Gleeson and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The pub features a picture of the Sacred Heart as well as a holy water font, a copy of the Good Friday Agreement signed by former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam as well as numerous pictures of John Hume, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams.

It also features an old-fashioned shop selling Irish food supplies plus several Irish-themed postcards behind the bar including one from 12-year-old Co Armagh Celtic ambassador Jay Beatty.

Actor Ciaran Hinds, with Sean Muldoon, co-owner of The Dead Rabbit, centre, and Liam Neeson. Picture from The Dead Rabbit/Facebook   

Also on the wall is a letter from former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O Muilleoir, praises the owners for their successes in the Big Apple.

The bar’s owners, who previously worked at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast, have earned several industry accolades including the world’s best bar at the annual Spirited Awards last year.

Schindler’s List star Neeson visited the bar on Sunday night with his friend Belfast actor Ciaran Hinds, who is currently starring in The Crucible on Broadway alongside Saoirse Ronan and Father Ted actor Jim Norton.

Mr Muldoon, who is from the Ardoyne area of Belfast, told The Irish News: “The gift he presented us with is the actual battle cross that he holds in the opening scene in the film The Gangs of New York.

“He said he had to beg Martin Scorsese for it and Martin only agreed to give him it because the sword inside it was broken. I asked him how it got broken and he said, to quote,: ‘I broke it over some nativists back!’”

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