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Liam Neeson presents Gangs of New York cross to Belfast owners of US pub Dead Rabbit inspired by film's real-life story

By Claire Williamson

Published 12/07/2016

Sean Muldoon, one of the Irish owners of the Dead Rabbit bar in New York with Liam Neeson and the Celtic cross he carried in the movie Gangs of New York
Sean Muldoon, one of the Irish owners of the Dead Rabbit bar in New York with Liam Neeson and the Celtic cross he carried in the movie Gangs of New York
The Dead Rabbit pub in New York
Liam Neeson carrying the cross in Gangs of New York

It's not every day Liam Neeson walks into your bar and hands you a famous item from one of his best-known films.

A world-renowned pub in New York City owned by two Belfast men had a visit from the Ballymena-born Hollywood star on Sunday night.

The Dead Rabbit, owned by Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon, has earned one of the highest accolades in the bar industry, having been crowned the world's best bar at the annual Spirited Awards last year.

McGarry and Muldoon previously worked at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

The three-storey pub, which was opened in 2013 in New York's Financial District, is a fusion of Lower Manhattan and Irish heritage, serving up everything from luxury cocktails to Irish breakfasts.

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

Neeson starred as the leader of the gang in the 2002 film Gangs of New York, alongside actors Leonardo Dicaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz and John C Reilly.

And on Sunday, Neeson called into the bar with the battle cross he holds in the opening scene of the film - and gifted it to the owners.

He was joined by his lifelong friend, Belfast actor Ciaran Hinds, who is currently acting in The Crucible on Broadway and who frequents the bar.

Sean told the Belfast Telegraph: "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.

"Liam starred as the Dead Rabbit gang leader in that film. He said he had to beg Martin Scorsese for it (the cross,) 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, 'I broke it over some Nativist's back.' Liam was very cool to talk to, as was Ciaran.

"We asked him if we could take the picture and post it on our Facebook page for our fans back home, and he totally obliged. So this is for them. We will keep it in a glass display case and will hang it proudly in our parlour bar.

"It - together with an autograph of John Morrissey, the actual Dead Rabbit gang leader - dated 1861, are the two dearest possessions we own."

Posting the photographs on Facebook the bar owners wrote: "Remember the big Celtic cross that Liam Neeson carried with him in Gangs of New York?

"Well the coolest thing happened last night..."

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