BALLYMENA-born movie star Liam Neeson is in mourning after his beloved mum passed away yesterday.
The death of Kitty Neeson was announced by parish priest Father Paddy Delargy at 6pm mass at All Saints Church in Ballymena.
Waterford-born Mrs Neeson, who was 94, had been ill for some months having suffered a fall, and had been recovering in nursing homes, first in Ballymoney and then in Ballymena.
Her death will come as a massive blow to her Hollywood star son Liam, who turns 68 today.
Mother-of-four Kitty Neeson was a former school cook whose husband Barney (Bernard), who died in 1988, had been a school caretaker.
Local sources said they expected Liam to fly home from New York for the funeral despite possible difficulties over Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
"He's probably on a plane now," said one local man who knows the family. "He really loved her, absolutely adored her."
Proud North Antrim man Liam returns regularly to visit family members.
In a 2016 interview he said of Kitty: "She gets annoyed if she can't walk to Mass on Sunday morning, and I just think, 'Mum, you're 90. It's OK! God will forgive you'." Kitty in turn had enjoyed her "shy" son's success as an actor. Over the years she has been photographed with many famous faces including Pogues star Shane MacGowan, actors Jeremy Irons and Gabriel Byrne, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney and James Bond star Sir Roger Moore.
In 1998 she travelled to Dublin for an award ceremony to collect a prize on Liam's behalf.
"He was such a quiet lad, I never knew it would turn out like this," she said.
"I love people. I love talking. Not like Liam. He got his quiet ways from his father."
She told journalists that she hadn't really known what career Liam would choose.
"He went to university but that didn't suit him," she said. "I didn't know much about it when he started acting. All I know is that he works very hard," added Kitty who visited him regularly on his sprawling farm in New York state.
Joking about the Schindler's List, Star Wars and Taken star's fame, she said: "I get these Yanks coming just to stare at my house."
Liam was the only boy in a family of four and Kitty is also survived by daughters Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaline and her grandchildren.
No arrangements have yet been announced for the funeral but it is expected it will be organised by local undertaker James Henry, who is also an independent councillor.
He said: "I haven't been speaking to any of the family or anything but I am aware of her death, in my professional capacity I'm a funeral director.
"It's very sad, she had been unwell for a while."
In 2013, Kitty was by Liam's side as he returned to Ballymena to be awarded the freedom of his home town. Proud Liam said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be here today.
"This is the Ballymena I was privileged to grow up in.
"So, in the name of my grandfather Bernard, my father Barney and the good, decent people of Ballymena, I can promise all of you that I will continue to be an ambassador for Ballymena, as I have been."
The actor's wife Natasha Richardson was tragically killed in a skiing accident in Canada in March 2009.
Last year his nephew Ronan Sexton died in Cushendall, five years after he suffered a serious injury in a fall from a telephone kiosk.