DUBLIN, Ireland –
Will Ferrell has received the James Joyce award — but concedes he's no literary expert.
"As I perused my leatherbound volumes of `Ulysses,' `Finnegans Wake,' `Dubliners,' `Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,' standing in my mahogany library, a lot of feelings ran across my mind. Like: `Damn, I should have read these books'," Ferrell deadpanned in front of more than 1,000 University College Dublin students Wednesday night.
Ferrell, 40, has just spent two weeks traveling throughout Ireland goofing around with his dad, Lee, and brother Patrick.
They spent time tracing family roots in the ancestral County Longford of the Ferrells — much more commonly spelled "Farrell" in Ireland — and his deepening sense of Irishness was evident as he arrived at the university clad in a snug-fitting Irish rugby jersey, shorts and cap.
"I'm so committed to my Irish roots that I intend to continue wearing this outfit upon my return to the United States," Ferrell told his audience. "I will also continue to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Will it be dangerous? Yes. Is it illegal? Highly. But that's just how committed I am."
Ferrell offered observations on pub life and Ireland's national beer during a 40-minute monologue.
"I love the taste of Guinness on the back of your throat, when it repeats on you the next morning," he said. "I love sitting in a cozy pub talking with a local, whose accent is so thick it sounds like he's gargling phlegm."
The Joyce award, run by the university's Literary and Historical Society, has been bestowed on a wide range of politicians and celebrities, including U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, former South African President F.W. de Klerk and former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix.
Ferrell joked that he hadn't been surprised to receive the honor, because he's close friends with Blix, who intimated recently that Ferrell was a shoo-in.
And he suggested a certain affinity with Joyce, the Dublin-born author who graduated from the university, then wrote his masterworks as an exile in Italy, Switzerland and France.
"James Joyce spent a lot of his life living outside of Ireland. I too have spent a lot of time living outside of Ireland," Ferrell said.