Liam Neeson features in UL’s Fighting Irishmen exhibit

MEMORABILIA from actor Liam Neeson’s amateur boxing career forms part of a new exhibition which opened in Limerick last night.

The Fighting Irishmen Exhibition, a celebration of Irish fighters based in the US from 1820 to the present, was opened at the University of Limerick (UL) Arena by Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan,

As part of the European City of Sport programme for 2011, the Irish Arts Centre in New York teamed up with Shannon Development and UL to secure the exhibition for Limerick city.

Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson, honorary chair and long-time supporter of the Irish Arts Centre in New York, loaned personal items from his amateur boxing career to the exhibition, which first opened to the public in New York in 2006.

Ms O’Sullivan said the exhibition showcases a unique aspect of Ireland’s sporting heritage from the US.

“With its passion for all sport, Limerick is the ideal location for this celebration of boxing. I can’t over emphasise the positive benefits sport can have in society. You only have to look at world-class fighters like Andy Lee and Willie Casey who have become great role models for our young people to see its positive impact,” she said.

Speaking at the launch last night, Dr Vincent Cunnane, chief executive of Shannon Development, said sport is part of the fabric of life in Limerick, due to the pride, passion and love of sport displayed by its people.

The late, great Irish fighter Dan Donnelly’s mummified right arm forms the centrepiece of the exhibition.

An array of robes, gloves, boxing bags, prints, photographs, paintings and film footage of Celtic prize-fighters from throughout the past 190 years will also be on display.

The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 9pm, until September 30 at UL.

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