WE have long viewed Daniel Day Lewis as something of a deep thinker, and he didn't disappoint yesterday.
The intensely private actor was granted the Freedom of Wicklow, but admitted that he had, in his own head, taken that freedom when he moved to the county 15 years ago, and thrived on it. But now that he has received it officially, he is a little worried that he will lose it.
"That's one of the reasons why this place suits me so well because I'm allowed to go quietly about my business," the two-time Oscar winner said.
"The truth is I don't notice [the pressure of celebrity] around here because I'm allowed to live. I notice it elsewhere; although, ironically, this day could have blown it for me."
It was his only off-the-cuff comment of the afternoon, and just about the only time that his smile left his face.
But worse was to follow: it was confirmed that the Freedom of Wicklow, unlike other similar honours, does not allow him to herd sheep up main streets in the county or to park his car wherever he likes. On this, Mr Day Lewis hid his disappointment a little better.
The London-born Irish citizen lives in relative isolation in a beautiful Georgian home at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, and only seems to emerge every couple of years to deliver a stunning performance and pick up the plaudits before returning to reclusion. During the ceremony in Rathnew yesterday, he said that his home in the village of Annamoe had given him physical and spiritual freedom and the chance to restore himself for his next starring role.
"I feel that sense of freedom and I'm able to move towards the planting of whatever seeds I need to plant to do the work that I do," he said.
"This is the place that sustains me, the place where I planted myself.
"When the work is done, it's to this place that I return to as a refuge," he added.
"It's a place where I feel the freedom to lie fallow if I need to for a period of time."
His total immersion in his starring roles such as that of Christy Brown in 'My Left Foot' and Daniel Plainview in 'There Will Be Blood' is legendary, as is his consistent shunning of the celebrity lifestyle and his reluctance to conduct interviews.
"Living in this place that I have now for 15 years I've always felt, more than any other place that I've been, that Wicklow is in harmony, complete harmony, with the demands that life has made," he said.
Day Lewis, who turns 52 tomorrow, kept a bashful grin on his face as those present sang 'Happy Birthday' to him yesterday, and blew kisses to his wife Rebecca Miller and sons Gabriel, Ronan and Cashel.
"On the principle that you should push yourself before you are thrown over, I really don't know what I have done to deserve this," he laughed.
"But I'm delighted, absolutely delighted with it."
To end his lengthy but entertaining acceptance speech, he read a poem by his father, poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis, called 'Avoca, Co Wicklow'.
Fellow Wicklow resident, director John Boorman, wrote a message to the star saying that he hoped the Wicklow freedom "helps to make up for the loss of freedom that is the price of being a movie star".