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Stars shine at Irish Oscars

Colin Farrell may have scooped one of the biggest awards at this year's IFTAs -- but he didn't stick around to celebrate his win.

The former hellraiser picked up a gong for Best Actor in a Lead Role for his part in Ondine, and the Herald can reveal how seriously he is taking fatherhood as he jetted off soon after the ceremony wrapped up to return to his son in Los Angeles.

The Hollywood star, who hasn't worked in months so he can enjoy second-time fatherhood, described it as an "incredible honour" to be recognised by his home fans.

He also spoke out about his love for his partner and movie co-star Alicja Bachleda.

"I'd like to thank Alicja for so many things. Thank you sweetheart, you've brought a lot of beauty into my life," he said.

The Polish stunner told the Herald that the award was extra special because he won it for the movie which led to their meeting.

"That makes it even better, I'm so proud of him, it's just great that he won it for Ondine," she said. Looking stunning in another Herve Leger creation, she added how they had to dash off early to get a flight back to LA and return to their five-month-old son.

Although it is considered the most prestigious award ceremony in the country, it didn't mean Saoirse Ronan was allowed to forego her bedtime to revel in her win.

Young starlet Saoirse Ronan (15) picked up the Best Actress award for her part in The Lovely Bones.

"I had the most incredible experience getting to play this character, working with some amazing people. It was a dream," she said.

While the Carlow native proved she still has her feet firmly on the ground, her delighted dad, Paul Ronan, made sure to celebrate for her at the after bash in the Bellini bar.

Speaking about not getting the nod for this year's Academy Awards, he said: "Feck the Oscars! This is worth much more than any Oscar nomination because it comes from people in her home country. I'm so proud of her," he continued.

Meanwhile the financial downturn was temporarily forgotten as hundreds of guests quaffed champers and shots in the Bellini Bar until nearly 5am.

Home-grown stars including RTE's Pat Kenny, Maura Derrane, Miriam O'Callaghan, Amy Huberman and Grainne Seoige were all spotted at the aftershow party.

And Aidan Quinn raised more than a few laughs after the Eclipse star accidentally left his IFTA trophy sitting on the bar counter while walking away with two pints instead.

However, big-name stars such Colin Farrell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matt Dillon and Josh Hartnett all left shortly after the ceremony.

The sexy actors exited the venue shortly after midnight as they all had to catch early morning flights, much to the dismay of female fans.

The IFTAs are often considered the most important date on the fashionistas' calendar and with some of the industry's biggest names, including Josh Hartnett, Matt Dillon and Jon Voight in attendance, the awards weren't short of Hollywood glamour.

However, it was Ireland's own leading talent that caught the most attention, particularly up- and-coming actress Sarah Bolger, who stole the show in her silver-sequined dress which she designed with Millicent Brides.

Also leading in the style stakes was RTE star Grainne Seoige, sporting old school glamour in a classic strapless crème dress, Herald columnist Colette Fitzpatrick in a baby pink number, and Lisa Cannon, who paired flashy earrings with her sequined cream dress.

Also beaming with delight was TV3's Apprentice team, who picked up another award in the Best Entertainment Programme. The station also won the award for the Best News Programme for its News at 5.30 programme.

Meanwhile RTE's Afternoon Show presenters Maura Derrane and Sheana Keane took the opportunity to play down reports of the programme's demise.

"I need to clarify something. The reality is that RTE have to put the show out to tender after six seasons," said Maura.

"This is the reality. Because they're a public broadcaster, they have to do that so the show will go out to tender. We don't know what's going to happen.

"Of course we want it to come back but what are you going to do if it's not? It's a fickle business."

Other big winners on the night included bubbly Sarah Bolger, who won the best supporting actress gong for her stint in The Tudors playing Jonathan Rhys Meyers' daughter.

Brendan Gleeson won a coveted award for his stint playing Winston Churchill in TV series Into The Storm. Oscar-winner Jim Sheridan also claim the Best Director gong for Brothers.