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Australia Day honour for Irish-born rocker

January 26, 2013 • Local, New South Wales, News,

Legendary Australian rocker Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson has been awarded an Order Of Australia Medal (OAM) in the Australia day honours list.

Neeson, who was born in Belfast and lived for a time in Dublin, is the creative force behind The Angels, one of Australia’s rock supergroups from the 1980s.

He is currently battling cancer so the award has given him a great boost.

“This award is most unexpected and I’m honoured to receive this it thank you to all those who have supported me in this recognition,” he said.

“I am delighted to receive this award the citation refers to my services to music and the community but it has been my honour to be part of Australia anyway. My fathers’ decision to migrate our family from Ireland to Australia was one the hardest but best decisions he ever made. But who would have thought a boy from Belfast would one day be awarded a “gong’ in Australia.

“What a week!  first my cousin Ned Kelly gets a decent burial. Next, I get this remarkable award. I’m honoured. What a week for the Irish.

“A few years ago the Irish Echo newspaper named me as one of Australia’s top 100 Irishmen and I felt honoured. Today, Australia has honoured me with this medal and I feel both humble and proud. What a buzz!”

Doc remains “in good spirits” despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour, according to his son Kieran.

He was hospitalised just before Christmas and his family learnt the devastating news on January 4 – his 66th birthday.

The Angels have cancelled their touring commitments, while Doc focussed on his health, with daily visits to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney for radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Kieran, 26, told the Irish Echo the family was remaining upbeat.

“It is quite an advanced stage that he’s in but people have had recoveries from this before so we’re very optimistic that there will be a good outcome and that he will be able to keep writing songs and making people happy,” he told the Irish Echo. “He’s very appreciative of all the support and it’s really helping him lift,” said Kieran, who lives in Lane Cove.

Kieran is taking part in the World’s Greatest Shave to raise funds to combat the disease and has been spurred on by his father’s situation.

“Now that something like this happened, too, it just drives you more to try to do something. I can mope about and whinge about it or I can get out there and the best I can do is try to raise money. Hopefully one day people with these types of illnesses can be cured and can get better treatment.”

Kieran and three mates have set a $10,000 target and are set to undergo the shave between March 14 and St Patrick’s Day. It’s a fitting date for the son of a much-loved Irish expat Down Under, as Doc has always held a candle for his heritage.

“He’s a very patriotic Irishman. He was brought up in Belfast as a Catholic, as one of six, in a Protestant part of town,” Kieran said.

Born in Belfast in 1947, Doc spent time as a boarder at Terenure College in Dublin before leaving Ireland with his Tipperary-born mother, dad, four brothers and a sister for Adelaide as a 13-year-old in 1960.

Neeson has penned a number of Aussie rock classics including No Secrets, We Gotta Get Outta This Place, Take A Long Line and jukebox favourite Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again?

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