Mrs Brown’s Boys star Dermot O’Neill vows stage return after docs blast cancer

MRS Browns Boys star Dermot ‘Bugsy’ O’Neill has told how doctors have “blasted” his life threatening cancer — as he vowed to make a return to the stage.

Millions of fans watched the 67-year-old star opposite show creator Brendan O’Carroll in a second Christmas special on BBC and RTE last night.

Above, Dermot pictured with The Irish Sun in Beaumont HospitalCredit: Garrett White - The Sun

But Dermot himself — who plays Grandad on the show — was watching the special on a shared TV with fellow patients in a public ward in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, where he has been battling cancer.

The telly favourite was hospitalised over Christmas for dehydration, after radiation and chemo treatment left him exhausted and unable to eat.

Dermot told the Irish Sun: “Brendan is from Finglas. I’m from Cabra. Who would have thought that two skangers like us would be top stars at the BBC this Christmas.”

The former window cleaner only featured briefly in the two Christmas specials because he couldn’t make it to rehearsals after being diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

The much-loved TV star said his world came apart last July when he discovered a lump in his throat while performing Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Musical at London’s O2.

Dermot returned to Dublin to undergo scans, with a biopsy later confirming the lump was cancer.

Dermot told us: “When you feel lumps you get really scared.

“F***ing hell I thought, that’s it. I was really scared. I knew I had cancer but I didn’t even want to know what sort of cancer.”

Dermot also revealed how he then underwent a series of scans looking for more cancer.

'Grandad' with The Irish Sun's Ken SweeneyCredit: Garrett White - The Sun


Dermot said: “The scans of my body came back perfect. That’s when I thought ‘Thank God we have caught it in time’.

“They ended up taking lumps out of my tongue which is where the source was... I couldn’t swallow. I was in a heap.”

Dermot then began a seven week course of Radiotherapy and chemo at Beaumont Hospital.

He said: “I’d been going in every weekday getting radiotherapy.

“Granddad’s famous ponytail has lost plenty of hair but the treatment blasted the lump away.”

However, the radiotherapy and chemo took a terrible toll on Dermot, who arrived for treatment at Beaumont the day before Christmas Eve and complained to doctors he was feeling dehydrated and couldn’t eat.

Dermot said: “The doctors immediately found a bed for me and put me on a drip.

“I was so dehydrated they were going to put a tube down my throat but I didn’t want that.”

His wife, Patricia ‘Chickie’ O’Neill, revealed he was left “exhausted” after treatment for cancer.

She told friends: “What we didn’t want to happen, happened. Dermot has been hospitalised to rehydrate him and be put on a feeding tube.”

Dermot remained in hospital for Christmas, where he is getting daily bouts of radiotherapy. He added: “They have blasted this cancer away but that’s not to say it won’t come back. I am loving the porridge in here and getting it into me.”

Last night after visiting her husband, Patricia revealed that Dermot had two more radiotherapy sessions to get through.

Dermot with his Mrs Brown's co-stars including Brendan O'Carroll and Jenny O'Carroll, Paddy Houlihan, Pat Pepsi Shields, former star Rory CowenCredit: Jean Curran


However, she said the last two chemo sessions will not be done as the doctors think he has had enough.

Incredibly, Grandad is hoping to go back on the road with Mrs Brown D’Musical in the New Year when Brendan and the cast — including Brendan’s wife Jenny, Paddy Houlihan, Dermot O’Neill and Pat Shields — do more arena dates in the UK. Dermot said: “Of course I am going back on stage.

“With any luck I will die on stage as long as it’s quick.

“Brendan has been joking he’s fine with that as he owns a coffin we used in Good Mourning Mrs Brown. In all seriousness, I’ll be living with cancer from this point on, so I’ll have to keep getting regular check-ups.”

The Dublin actor paid tribute to wife Patricia, who is holding down a day job as well as being at his bedside in Beaumont.

He also said he was encouraged by ‘get well’ cards sent by his six grandchildren — Danielle, Nathan, Jordan, Katy, Leah and Layla. Dermot said that close pal Brendan has also been in daily contact with him but that he asked him and the rest of the Mrs Brown’s Boys cast not to visit in case it caused a fuss at the hospital.

He said: “I love having the craic with the other lads in the ward. One of them thought I was German. We all watched Mrs Brown together last night.”

Dermot started his career in Cabra as a window cleaner but everything changed the day he cleaned Brendan’s windows in nearby Finglas.


First roadie to the stand up, Dermot then took up stage design on the first Mrs Brown play. He recalled: “The first Mrs Brown show we did was in the Everyman Palace, in Cork.

“About half an hour before the curtain was due to go up, I was on stage banging a nail into the set, Brendan came up and handed me some lines on the back of a cigarette packet.

“He said ‘You’re playing granddad’ — That was it, no rehearsals, no training.

“I was in Mrs Brown’s Boys.”

Dermot has never left the production, and says they have welcomed all sorts of famous faces backstage as the show grew in popularity. He recalled: “Gabriel Byrne used to come to the gigs, and was a sound bloke to have a pint with after. I’m mad into football so I was in heaven when people like Ronnie Whelan turned up.

“Brian Kerr used to bring the whole Irish soccer team to see us.”

Mrs Brown’s Boys has continued to sell out arenas, turned into a box office success with a hit movie and has even won a few gongs.

Dermot said: “The first time at the BAFTAs we didn’t win but the second year, when I heard it was a public vote, I knew we could do it.

“Not everyone likes the show but our fans never let us down, so winning a BAFTA was amazing.”

Despite pal Brendan revealing his own health scare last month — which saw him having life-saving stents put into his heart — Dermot said the Mrs Brown gang just plan to keep going.

The former window cleaner only featured briefly in the two Christmas specials because he couldn’t make it to rehearsals after being diagnosed with cancer in 2019

He said: “Of course. There is wear and tear. We are all at this since our thirties but we love it and we want keep going. There is no stopping us.”

Mrs Brown’s Boys was the No1 watched TV show in Ireland over Christmas, for the ninth year in a row. Mrs Brown’s Boys — A Wonderful Mammy was watched by an average of 574,000 viewers.

While 4.6million fans watched a Mrs Brown’s Boys special on BBC1 on Christmas Day in the UK.

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