CONSUMMATE English actor, Jeremy Irons (65), admitted he was "absolutely thrilled' to be made an honorary Irishman.
The Academy Award winning star, who lives in Kilcoe Castle in west Cork with his Dublin-born wife, Sinead Cusack, was made an honorary Corkman as he received the award from fellow west Cork resident, 'Chariots of Fire' producer, Lord David Puttnam.
"It is a huge honour and a great pleasure. I am a blow in and I have been a blow in for 35 years. I suppose I will always be a blow in."
"But at least now that I am an honorary Corkman I am not quite such a blow in. I am hoping that when I am stopped for going slightly over the speed limit the fact that I am an honorary Corkman may help tilt the balance. I am chuffed."
He said he loves life in Ireland because people treat him as an ordinary person and not as a Hollywood celebrity.
"West Cork is a place where I ground myself. It is a place where I am surrounded by people who accept me for who I am and not for the fame that surrounds me."
"That is very grounding for a person who works in a profession where you are constantly over-hyped. You know your true value is not the value that some people seem to attach to you."
The actor has starred in some of the most critically acclaimed films of the past 30 years including ‘Reversal of Fortune’, ‘The Mission’ and ‘Lolita’ as well as blockbusters including ‘Die Hard With A Vengeance’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.
"West Cork (offers) a very honest evaluation. People who live there work when they have to so as to live as they wish. People are much happier to be sitting talking, eating great food of which there is wonderful produce in west Cork and enjoying the wonderful countryside. It is a very special place on God's earth."
The star splits his time between west Cork, London and Oxfordshire but he said he hopes to spend even more time in Ireland.
"One of the advantages of being a blow in is that you can blow out every now and then. But I was swimming off (Kilcoe) Castle on Christmas Day and I nearly died with the cold but it was a glorious day. Last summer I thought I had died and gone to heaven in west Cork."
Mr Irons also vowed to make his first film in Ireland - and said he would love to work on a suitable script for a film dealing with the Great Famine.
"A good script is all it takes. That's all it ever takes. Movies come from good scripts and not locations. If we find a story which can be told here I will be so happy. But I would like to do a story about the famine. The famine is something that lurks...particularly down in west Cork. It is very much in the (Irish) psyche but has never really been faced because the horrors were too great. I would love to do a story that addresses that and, so to speak, helps lance the boil."
However, he refused to be drawn on Kerry-born star, Michael Fassbender, and his chances of Academy Award glory next month for his role in 'Twelve Years as a Slave'.
"I am not allowed to say because I vote (in the Academy). But there are some extraordinary performances this year. It is a very strong year. Michael is a fantastic actor...as another actor looking at him I think he is far too good."
Corkman of the Year nominee, World Champion athlete Ron Heffernan (35), admitted he had other reasons to be nervous than sharing a stage with Jeremy Irons and Lord Puttnam as his wife, Marian, is expecting a baby within 24 hours.
"I have the overnight bag packed and we're ready to go at a minute's notice. But I'll be driving her to the hospital and not walking because I've put on a few kilos over Christmas," he laughed.
"It has been an incredible few months. There was the gold medal in Russia, then there was the Corkman of the Year nomination and now Marian is due any day now. I just can't believe all that has happened."