Gabriel Byrne was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the IFTAs tonight.
The award was presented to him by President Michael D Higgins and the actor was visibly humbled by the occasion taking a significant pause before commencing his speech.
The actor began his working life training as a priest at 11 years of age and then became a plumber, among other professions, before he ventured into acting.
On his achievements in the acting world being recognised, he remarked, “It’s lovely, it really is.”
Speaking about accepting the award among his fellow Irish peers he likened it to our soccer players returning from England to don the green jersey but noted that “It’s a little bit nerve wracking.”
After transitioning from a conservative start in religion to the liberal industry of acting, he spoke strongly about his stance on the upcoming 8th amendment referendum.
“I’m unashamedly, unapologetically pro-choice.”
“I believe that If you don’t own your own body and your own decision to do what you want with your own body, what do you really own?”
“I think that the Church and politicians should not be making decisions, moral decision about a persons intimate life.”
“That’s not to denigrate people who are pro-life… You can’t tell one group of people what they should be doing.”
He was moved speaking about how his father, a working class Dublin man, would feel seeing him being honoured by the President.
Asked could his father even fathom he’d ever be honoured like this he shook his head in disbelief and said “No. No. No.”
“He thought the radio was the height of human achievement.”
“I think he would be immensely proud but unable to comprehend it.” A bit like me. I can’t comprehend it either!”
Watch the full interview here.