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Liam Neeson fighting to save historic New York building where wake of wife Natasha was held


Liam Neeson and his late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson and his late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson and his late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson is fighting to save the historic New York building where the wake of wife Natasha was held.

Ballymena-born Neeson has written to New York State Attorney General Letitia James opposing the sale of the American Irish Historical Society on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Neeson (68) is a board member of the society and was joined in mourning Natasha Richardson’s loss 12 years ago at the famous building, along with celebrities like Lauren Bacall, Uma Thurman , Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker.

The letter, which was co-written by other prominent Irish Americans like Malachy McCourt, said: “We believe that the society’s stated mission – ‘That the world may know’-- is intimately connected to its venerable presence on the most prestigious avenue in the world’s greatest city.

“We believe that severing the society from its time-honored location, which for over eight decades has hosted leading thinkers, writers and artists from Ireland and Irish America is a tragic mistake that once made can never be reversed.

“We believe that, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the St. Patrick’s Day parade, this architectural jewel is a living monument to the struggle and success of our immigrant ancestors.

Irish American celebrities and friends of Neeson’s flocked to the American Irish Historical Society building for the wake after Natasha Richardson tragically lost her life in 2009.

Other signatories on the letter include Pulitzer Prize winning writer Paul Muldoon and his wife, the novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz; Pulitzer Prize winning novelist William Kennedy; novelist Alice McDermott; writers Colm Toibin, Colin Broderick, Peter Quinn, Colum McCann and Malachy McCourt.

Last month, the society’s board of directors announced that its long-time Fifth Avenue home, on 80th Street across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, would be offered for sale for $52 million.

That sparked anger across the Irish American community, who say the building houses thousands of rare Irish books and documents.

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Insiders say the society has been under financial pressure for some time, as the Covid-19 pandemic has halted events at the venue.

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