ACTOR Liam Neeson arrived back in Ballymena today to a jubilant welcome as he accepted the freedom of his home town.
The Hollywood star waded through a scrum of well-wishers as he arrived at the reception.
"It is great to be back," he said.
He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a German businessman who prevented many Jews from being sent to Nazi death camps in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.
Another of his most prominent roles has been the portrayal of Irish rebel leader Michael Collins in the film of the same name. His other work includes parts in The Mission, Suspect, Rob Roy and Batman Begins.
This is the second time Neeson has been offered the freedom of the borough after refusing the Co Antrim council's recognition in 2000 amid controversy over his alleged derogatory remarks.
He was quoted as saying in an American magazine that he felt "second class" as a Catholic growing up in the mainly Protestant town and felt he had to stay indoors during the loyalist July 12 commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne.
Only three people have been awarded the freedom of Ballymena: Ian Paisley, Dr Syd Millar and Sandy Spence.
Before taking to the stage he was a boxer and a forklift truck driver.