Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Liam Neeson's home town united in sadness

Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson
Natasha Richardson
Natasha and Liam

As news spread of the sudden death of actress Natasha Richardson the people of Ballymena said the wife of the town’s most famous son would be in their “thoughts and prayers”.

Those who live in Ballymena where her actor husband Liam Neeson was born and bred spoke of their shock and sadness.

The Neeson family in Northern Ireland have remained silent about the tragic death of the 45-year-old mother of two. Only through a statement have they said that both Liam and their children have been left “shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha”.

At the home of Natasha’s mother-in-law Kitty Neeson visitors called throughout the day.

A neighbour who didn’t want to be named said the sudden death of Neeson’s wife has left people “totally shocked”.

“I’d heard Natasha had been injured but I don’t think anybody realised how serious it was.”

Meanwhile the Very Rev John Bond from Broughshane said her death will be felt by family members living in Northern Ireland.

“This was the life of a young person, a mother, a wife and a talented woman, cut short so very suddenly. As he still has family living here in and around Ballymena and so this tragic loss will be felt locally.

“The Neeson family are very well known, and highly thought of, Liam is an iconic figure here. He, along with his whole family will be in the thoughts and prayers of many right across the town, and I’m sure Northern Ireland.”

And throughout the town people stopped to voice their sadness at the news.

Margaret Wright (73) from Ahoghill near Ballymena said people “couldn’t believe the news”.

“He is so well respected, he is a Ballymena man and the people of the town, and I’m sure right across the country, feel for him, and his two boys. It is just so sad.”

Stephen Fullerton (50) from Ballymena said the local people will offer support to the Neesons.

“When the news broke I just couldn’t believe it.

“He still has time for Ballymena, and I’m sure people here will give him the time and any support he needs.”

Kenny Davidson (42) who works at The Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena said: “He has supported the local arts so well, it must be a terrible time for him, but he will be in the thoughts of everyone in Ballymena, that’s for sure.”

Emma McKeegan (22) from Cushendall said the couple had enjoyed time holidaying in Northern Ireland.

“Liam’s brother lives in Cushendall and so you would have seen the couple there, spending sometime in the summer.

“They were just seen as part of their family, and people just left them alone, because of that.”

Politicians also voiced their condolences to the family.

Declan O’Loan, deputy mayor of Ballymena, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the Neesons at this time.”

John Miskella (24) who lives in Liam Neeson’s former home in Ballymena, said the family is greatly respected.

“We have a lot of time for the Neesons, so the news of his wife’s accident was really tragic.

“We actually still have a photograph of Liam, which was given to my mum from Kitty. The whole family is just so respected here. It’s just so sad.”

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