IT'S a long way from Hollywood – but for actor Daniel Day Lewis it is the field of dreams. The Oscar winner is resolute that a picturesque coastal site in rural Wicklow will be the setting for the first hospice in the county, providing a peaceful haven for people who are terminally ill.
The 56-year-old star, who has a family home in Annamoe, is patron of the Wicklow Hospice Foundation, which is now "within a whisker" of raising the €3m needed to get the HSE on board to provide the rest of the investment needed to allow the 12-bed building to go ahead.
A further €3m is needed to start construction and the HSE would also take over the operating costs.
"It a place of great natural beauty, a peaceful place, generously donated by the Columban Sisters," said Day Lewis during a visit to the site outside Wicklow town yesterday.
His support for the campaign is a moving tribute to the care his mother Jill received in a similar 'cottage hospital' in England in the last months of her life before her death in 2009 from a brain tumour.
"A lot of important things in one's life have to begin with a personal connection of some kind. When I was contacted by Evanne Cahill, chairwoman of the Wicklow hospice fund, my mother had recently passed away.
"It was an awful time but it was transformed into a very rich time for myself and my sister because of the beautiful environment."
His mother could have had hospice care at home but she felt so safe and comfortable in the community hospital that she chose to stay there.
The actor explained: "It can be a precious time, but without the quality of the environment the less consoling it is. It has to be a hospice built in the most suitable and happy place.
"It is not just about seeing them through to the end. Of all the options, this is the most beautiful place."
He described hospice workers as "unique people" who get involved not just with the patients but also with the families.
"There is no way you can praise them too highly."
Earlier this year, Day Lewis secured props from the set of the film 'Lincoln' to auction for the hospice before going on to win his third Oscar for his portrayal of the US president.
He paid tribute to chairwoman Evanne Cahill and said it was also important that the American Ireland Fund was now behind the project .
Day Lewis said the people of Wicklow deserved the hospice and that they had "earned it and won't be denied it".
"I say that on behalf of all other counties also in need of a hospice. It is a natural thing to do for one's community."
He said he had a lot of good fortune in his life and considered being able to help the campaign part of that.