Oscar-winning movie star Daniel Day-Lewis seeks refuge from the limelight in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains, he revealed today.
As the renowned actor became the first Freeman of the County, he said his idyllic hillside home in the village of Annamoe gives him great physical and spiritual freedom and the chance to restore himself for his next big role.
The intensely private Hollywood star said the honour bestowed on him was one of the most poignant moments in his life.
“I have had many memorable days and great fortune in my life and this is one of the most memorable of them all,” he said.
“I’m just astonished that this blessing has been honoured on me.”
Family, friends and fans sang 'Happy Birthday' to the bashful actor, who turns 52 this week.
He kept a schoolboy grin fixed on his face throughout the moving ceremony, while his wife Rebecca Miller and sons Gabriel, Ronan and Cashel sat nearby.
“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,” continued Day-Lewis.
The two-time Oscar winner read a poem by his father, poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, called 'Avoca, Co Wicklow'.
He said his home gave him freedom to breathe, grow, raise a family, and enjoy cycling and jogging.
“The freedom that you the people of Wicklow have allowed me,” Day-Lewis told the crowded room at Wicklow Campus, in Rathnew.
“The truth is that I helped myself very cheekily to that freedom without really asking if anyone minded a long time ago and in making this eloquent gesture today you have given me the greatest possible symbol of that immeasurable liberty I took.”
Fellow Wicklow resident, Oscar-nominated director John Boorman, wrote a message to the star which was read at the event.
“When they bestowed this well-earned honour, did they realises how much Wicklow freedom you already possessed – biking the ring of the Sally Gap, running in the hills of Glendalough, the woods, the streams, the sandy strands, the dreaming landscape of our spiritual home,” Mr Boorman said.
“This Wicklow freedom, I hope, helps to make up for the loss of freedom that is the price of being a movie star.”
Councillor Derek Mitchell, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, said the highest honour in the country was being bestowed on the actor for his remarkable contribution and outstanding achievements in the international film industry and bringing honour to the region.
“He is a truly worthy recipient,” added Mr Mitchell.