The Oscar nominee and four-time Golden Globes winner was last night presented with the Gregory Peck Award for excellence in the art of film at the Dingle International Film Festival.
“This award means the world to me as I’m very close to the Peck family and it has given me the reason to come to Ireland for the first time — at last! Everything about the trip is extraordinary’’ she declared.
The presentation was made by Oscar-nominated director and writer, Jim Sheridan, at the Blasket Interpretive Centre, in Dun Chaoin.
While in Dingle, Ms Dern, 47, has being doing what many visitors to the area do — taking a boat trip to see Fungi the dolphin, accompanied by her children and Cecilia Peck, daughter of the late screen legend Gregory Peck.
Gregory Peck’s grandmother, Catherine Ashe, was born in Minard, near Dingle, and the visitors also went there.
Ms Dern — who can currently be seen in The Fault in Our Stars — has walked on beaches and on a farm during her short stay.
And she also savoured “the best food I ever had’’ in Ashe’s old-style pub, as well as sampling Guinness and locally-brewed beer.
“Yes, I’m going to come back — I’m in love,’’ she enthused.
From a movie-making family in Los Angeles, her actor father, Bruce Dern, 78, received an Oscar nomination earlier this year for his role in Nebraska.
Ms Dern’s movie career spans several decades. She was nominated for an Oscar for her part in Rambling Rose, while her Golden Globes successes were for Enlightened, Recount, Afterburn and Miss Golden Globe.
She has also been nominated several times for an Emmy Award.
Among the directors she has worked with are Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Alexander Payne and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Ms Dern was interviewed at last night’s award ceremony by the film festival’s artistic director, Maurice Galway, on her career as actress, director and producer. He said: “Laura is a true artist and an actress who has worked with the best directors in the business… this is a one-off and unique event and a real coup for the festival.’’
Previous winners of the award include Jim Sheridan, Gabriel Byrne and Stephen Frears.