Will Ferrell Has Irish Award Society in Stitches

01/24/2008 at 03:40 PM EST

Will Ferrell Has Irish Award Society in Stitches
Niall Carson/AP
Will Ferrell turned one of Ireland's most esteemed college debating societies into a laugh romp Wednesday night, according to Irish newspaper reports.

Dressed in a full Irish rugby uniform – including a headband, shorts and green knee socks – the Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory star appeared in Dublin to receive the University College's Literary & Historical Society's prestigious James Joyce Award.

Previous winners include United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix and former South African President F.W. de Clerk. This time, they chose to recognize the 40-year-old Ferrell for his contribution to comedy and entertainment.

"I am truly honored to be in the same company as previous recipients," the Hollywood funnyman, who recently auctioned off a role in one of his movies for charity, said in a rare moment of seriousness.

But the rest of his speech offered a glimpse of the actor's trademark deadpan humor. "As I look out at this crowd, I see the future of Ireland, the future of Europe," Ferrell told the audience of more than 1,000. "And let's face it, the future looks pretty bleak."

The former Saturday Night Live star also said he had spent time tracing his Hibernian heritage. "I'm so committed to my Irish roots that I intend to continue wearing this [rugby] outfit upon my return to the U.S.," he vowed. "I will also continue to drive on the left-hand side of the road."

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