Dame Judi Dench was presented with an Irish Academy Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to film and TV. 

The event, hosted by Academy CEO Áine Moriarty at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel on Thursday, July 6, took the form of an intimate ‘In Conversation’ with Irish presenter Deirdre O’Kane in front of an audience of Academy Members and invited guests, IFTA said.

Dench was presented with her IFTA Lifetime Award by Minister Catherine Martin TD.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," an emotional Dench said upon receiving the award. "I shall never forget this evening."

Video: Judi Dench receives her IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award from Minister Catherine Martin TD, following a fabulous 'In Conversation' with Deirdre O'Kane, yesterday evening at the Shelbourne Hotel. pic.twitter.com/7ZiZ8F82DA

— Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) (@IFTA) July 7, 2023

Though raised in York, Dench has strong connections to Ireland - her mother was a native of Dublin and while her father was born in Dorset, he was raised in Dublin from the age of three. Dench's parents met at Wesley College in Dublin before moving to York where the future Oscar winner was raised.

Dench recalled that one night when she was a child, her parents told her that they were going to see a film called Nightboat to Ireland. She soon learned this was not a trip to the cinema.

“We came into Dún Laoghaire, and my mother and father were standing there, completely overcome, that’s how much it meant to them,” said Dench.

“Most of my relations are here… probably in this room! It's very, very special to be here and to be honored in this way.”

She added: “My family was so rooted in Ireland and so were we as children – knowing all about it. So it is not a surprise to come back and feel unbelievably settled.”

The legendary Judi Dench receiving her IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this evening, following a fabulous conversation with @DeirdreOKane1 at the Shelbourne. #IFTA pic.twitter.com/8CX73BHiEf

— Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) (@IFTA) July 6, 2023

Thursday's IFTA event was attended by some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Cate Blanchett, Olivia Colman, Caitríona Balfe, and Ciarán Hinds.

"You're a miracle. You're kind, you're generous… you’re wicked," Blanchett effused, while Colman said “Judi is the greatest. She embodies every part effortlessly, with a lightness of touch. She is captivating…”

Hinds, who co-starred with Dench in the Oscar-nominated "Belfast," spoke on behalf of the Irish Academy: “We are thrilled not only that you’ve accepted it, but we feel very honored to be able to offer it to you.”  

Balfe, who also co-starred in "Belfast," said: “Working with you has been one of the highlights of my career. I got to witness firsthand your kindness, your light, your incredible talent and, of course, your wicked sense of humor. From stage to television and film, you have inspired us, you have moved us and you are a true, true legend.”

Dench spoke about portraying Irish woman Philomena Lee in "Philomena," a role she landed an Oscar nomination for: “Well, I was very, very lucky because I met Philomena about four years before we started filming. She had the most remarkable sense of humor, and I thought that’s it! Of course, she’s not going to be sad all the time. And that was a wonderful way in for me to understand her a bit.”

Ireland's Arts Minister Catherine Martin said she was honored to present Dench with the lifetime achievement award.

Honoured to present the #IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award to Dame Judi Dench tonight

Her roles in #Belfast & #Philomena among many others on stage and screen have captivated audiences

Wonderful to hear her speak about her Irish heritage & how it informed her inspiring career pic.twitter.com/eVjpzs0bZ8

— Catherine Martin TD (@cathmartingreen) July 6, 2023

In a career spanning over six decades, Dench is arguably best known for her performance as M in the James Bond movies. She is also recognized for her performance in the 1999 film "Shakespeare in Love," which saw her take home the Oscar for Best Actress. 

Dench has been nominated for a further seven Academy Awards, including for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast."

In a statement, IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty said the organization was "so honored" to host Dench.

"It’s such an honor to pay tribute to Judi Dench and to celebrate her extraordinary talent, work, and career," Moriarty said. "Judi is a master of her craft; the breadth and variety of her work on stage and screen has solidified her as one of the most respected and iconic actors of her generation."