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John Cusack's plans for movie about Irish rebel Meagher could be filmed in Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

Hollywood actor John Cusack was on a secret mission when he visited Northern Ireland last week, it can be revealed.

The A-lister, who is also a producer and screenwriter, used the trip to scout out a new film about revolutionary Thomas F Meagher - the man who gave us the Irish tricolour.

Cusack was in town to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Belfast Film Festival. During the trip he briefly mentioned involvement "with a friend" in a project that could be filmed here.

That "friend" is producer Kevin McCabe and the project is based on The Immortal Irishman, a biography of Meagher.

Born in Waterford in 1823, Meagher became a leading figure in the Irish independence movement.

He ended up leading the Union Army's legendary Irish Brigade in the American Civil War.

Meagher had a colourful life. In 1848 he travelled to France to study revolutionary events there and was presented with a green, white and orange flag by a group of French women.

He was arrested later that year back home during the Young Irelander rebellion, found guilty of sedition and treasonous activity and sentenced to death.

The sentence was commuted to banishment for life and Meagher was shipped to Tasmania.

He eventually made his way to New York in 1852. There he was an instant celebrity, with the large Irish community cheering him in the streets and parties thrown in his honour.

He served with distinction in the Civil War, and died in 1867 after falling from a river boat. His body was never recovered.

The tricolour was first raised over the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916, and was officially adopted as the flag of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Cusack and McCabe are "in pre-production" for the project, but there are no shooting dates.

The star told a Belfast audience he regarded Meagher as an "Irish revolutionary" and also hinted about "maybe doing it here".

Critic Brian Henry Martin, who interviewed Cusack, said the movie could repeat the impact of Game Of Thrones on our film and tourism industries.

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