Comedian Brendan O'Carroll has been awarded the accolade "National Philanthropist of the Year" by the Community Foundation for Ireland.

He was chosen because of his work with the Society of St Vincent de Paul, which he says supported his widowed mother of 11 some 50 years ago.

Speaking this evening on RTÉ's Six One News the comedian said that without the St Vincent de Paul his family could not have survived.

He said that poverty puts an enormous stress on a family and he appealed to people to give to charity, saying "you get more out of it than you get".

He described his career as trivial when compared to the work of the St Vincent de Paul.

The foundation's citation praises the star's regular private donations to good causes over the years.

It explains that he went public as a donor in 2013 in an effort to slow down the decline in charitable donations here following revelations about executive pay at the Central Remedial Clinic.

On that occasion he gave €125,000 each to the St Vincent de Paul Society and Irish Autism Action.

The money came from ticket sales for a production of "Mrs. Brown's Boys" at Dublin's O2.

The creator and star of last Christmas' most-watched television show in Britain made a further donation of €100,000 to St Vincent de Paul here choosing to go public in a bid to encourage others to continue supporting his favourite charities.

Before receiving the award in Dublin this afternoon, the 59-year-old recalled what he presumed were 'kind uncles, Vincent and Paul' who came to his Finglas home to inquire if his mother had enough fuel and food.

Asked about increasing levels of child deprivation revealed in official statistics this week, he said schooling should be completely free and more children should be given free breakfast at school.

The comedian who was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Jenny, daughter Fiona, her husband Martin Delany and the star's son Eric O'Carroll, said the help he gives the society does not equal the assistance it provided to his mother and her children.

Among the other charities he supports are DEBRA Ireland which provides support services to patients and families living with the debilitating skin condition Epidermolysis bullosa.

He also supports the Grace Nolan Foundation, a charity formed by Brendan's friends, Michael and June Nolan, whose daughter Grace, died, aged 9, from Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia and Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin