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Van and Jordan honoured by France

THEY'VE both received numerous accolades for their work but veteran musician Van Morrison and filmmaker Neil Jordan both agreed it's always nice to receive new recognition.

Yesterday, it was France's turn to bestow the honours. The two men were awarded one of the country's highest distinctions as they received Officers of the Order of Arts medals and Letters in recognition of their work.

``It's very exciting. I've never received anything like this before,'' said a visibly pleased Jordan after French Culture Minister Catherine Trautmann pinned the elaborate gold and green cross to his lapel. Then he admitted he'd had to ask her privately after the presentation to explain exactly what it was.

Clad in black, Van Morrison, always a man of few words, graciously accepted the medal, posed for photographers and then told the small gathering at the Culture Ministry: ``It's a great privilege to accept this honour. I'm very pleased to be here.''

Minister Trautmann praised the two mens' achievements, saying they ``symbolised the extraordinary creative capacity of Ireland''. She thanked Van Morrison for ``35 years of unforgettable musical experiences'' and called Neil Jordan ``one of the best directors in European cinema''.

The two were in fact named to the order in 1996, while the Imaginaire Irlandais cultural festival was under way but never had time to pick up their medals.

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