The image of actor Colin Farrell is of a tough, cool customer, but the man who spoke in front of 1,000 well-heeled members at the Ireland Funds’ New York dinner on Thursday night was a very different guy.

Farrell, shy and ill at ease as he opened his remarks, delivered a heartfelt plea for the weakest among us, young sick children. This was not Hollywood chest beating or feigned compassion for the planet, it was about real life and his own and his family’s story.

Read More: The Ireland Funds gala honors Colin Farrell, raises $3 million for Irish charities

Inspired by his love and devotion to his own son James, who suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a devastating neurological disease, Farrell laid it all out with what needed to be done. With searing honesty he talked about James, and how guilty he sometimes felt when he was able to “get James at the front of the line” because of his own fame.

Calling the Ireland Fund efforts “close to my heart,” he said, “I will leave here tonight with a check for Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. One does not need to experience sickness to have compassion for the sick, but my beautiful boy was born into my life 14 years ago and my son James has had incredible struggles with health. But I, because of an unfair social structure that favors those on the upper end of the economic bracket, have found myself on the right side of wrong more than once.

“Because of the means I’ve had at my disposal and because, again, of the fallacy of fame, I have been in a position where I could get James at the front of the line, and if I had any power to do the right thing at that moment and say ‘you go first’…”

Honoree Colin Farrell speaks of the impact of @TheIrelandFunds at The Ireland Funds New York Gala #IFNYGala . pic.twitter.com/sUuKehGvLB

— IrelandFundsAmerica (@IrelandFundsAM) May 4, 2018

He then went on to praise Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, the chronically underfunded main children’s hospital in Ireland, and the incredible work done there.

“The work - the Irish can’t take full responsibility for that because 60% of the staff are Filipino - that was a joke but also serious, so genuinely a shoutout to Filipinos, I don’t know what it is but they have an innate ability to care for the sick, the injured, the infirm, but also the nurses and the doctors in Crumlin Hospital, they do work that is so important.

“Where there is despair they bring hope, where there is tragedy they offer assistance to families so that they may suffer their losses with some modicum of dignity and so that they may potentially even find meaning in the tragedy of their pain.

Receiving the performing arts award at the 43rd @theirelandfunds #NYC gala, Colin Farrell speaks emotionally about how unfair it is that fame and fortune have enabled him to give his son better treatment than others can get, &also praises the staff of Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin. pic.twitter.com/NeylD3UEDb

— Caitriona Perry (@CaitrionaPerry) May 4, 2018

“The work that they do with very little funding is an extraordinary thing and I’ve been blessed to be a part of - albeit briefly - various lives that have been fortunate enough to find their way out of the hospital after successful treatments, and unfortunate enough to leave the hospital one family member down, which I just can’t comprehend.

“And so I am utterly grateful for this, for the Ireland funds and all that you do and you will continue to do to make this world a kinder, more compassionate and more loving place. “

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Farrell, who recently checked himself into rehab, won the hearts of all present. It is rare to hear such honesty and deep feeling from a Hollywood star, admitting he was brought to his knees by his own son’s diagnosis and understanding his need and responsibility to help other children not just his own beloved boy.

On Thursday night, Colin Farrell stood tall. He was the Angel Man on this memorable night at the Ireland Funds, who raised $3 million for good causes.

Hopefully some kids can sleep better.

John Fitzpatrick, Chairman of The Ireland Funds America, and actor Colin Farrell at The Ireland Funds 43rd Annual New York Gala on May 03, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Michael Nagle