Perfect start for Dr Martin, the student
SOME US presidents go on lecture tours when they retire, but Jed Bartlet is preparing to take his place in NUI Galway, as Martin Sheen, student.
The journey from TV's West Wing to the West of Ireland will happen this autumn when one of America's most respected actors and activists for liberal causes, signs up for an arts degree.
Even before his studies here begin, the National University of Ireland (NUI) has already singled Martin Sheen out for its highest academic honour.
The US actor, born Ramon Estevez to a mother from Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, was one of six individuals presented with an honorary degree by the NUI yesterday at the Royal College, Kilmainham.
The new Doctor of Arts was described "as a man whose courage and vision as a talented actor are complemented by his consistent and meaningful engagement with civil society - his concerns for his country and its role in the wider international community".
A vehement critic of the current US administration, he described as "outrage" US military flights landing in Shannon and said George Bush's decision to start the war in Iraq was "about his ego".
The US president was a "bully" whose leadership was "immoral and false", he added.
"I have been described 'as an actor who thinks he is president, but he is a president who thinks he is an actor'."
Mr Sheen will not be taking a role in student politics here.
Although an Irish citizen, he says he will be here as a "foreign student" and "will not be permitted to get involved in any politics here. I would be exported".
Also honoured by the NUI were Galway-born milliner, Philip Treacy, Louise Arbour, Dr Mike Meegan, Dr Bill Harris, Caroline Casey and John McCarthy.
Steve Humphreys' photograph shows Martin Sheen receiving his Doctor of Arts at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, yesterday.