The story of Mrs Brown's Boys - from cast deaths to heartbreaking cast split

Mrs Brown's boys has kept us in giggles over the years

Brendan O'Carroll's Mrs Brown's Boys has been storming the airwaves since the 90s, going from Irish radio star to BBC favourite to movie star.

The Irish man, who created the series and stars as matriarch Agnes, has roped his family and close friends into making up the rest of the cast.

While the show has received some scathing reviews from critics over the years, viewers can't get enough of the Brown family's antics and switch on in their millions.

While there are big smiles on screen, there has been tragedy and heartbreak away from the cameras.

The original cast line-up has not remained intact, with one very prominent star leaving his role in mysterious circumstances.

While the deaths of loved ones has hit the show hard with most cast members being related or close friends.

While Brendan himself has faced a terrifying health scare after filming on the show.

Here is a look at the heartbreaks the brave cast have been forced to face:

Brendan O'Carroll rushed to hospital in health scare

Mrs Brown's Boys wouldn't exist without the creative genius that is Brendan O'Carroll.

The comedian, who writes and stars in the BBC sitcom in drag, feared he was going to die from a heart attack after filming a Christmas special in Scotland.

Speaking on Ireland’s The Late Late Show in October 2017, Brendan admitted he thought he was "a goner" and woke wife Jennifer Gibney up.

He said: "I thought I was having a heart attack. I had this bug and at about 2am I had to wake Jenny up. We were filming the Christmas special up in Glasgow.

"I said to her ‘You should call an ambulance’. We called the ambulance as we wanted to meet them on the street.

"When Jenny and I were in the lift we were still on 999. They told her to put her hand on my tonsil, to count my heart beat.

"It was all going on. I had the fright of my life and I thought I was a goner.

"When I got in the ambulance they said ‘Well it is not your  heart ’and I vomited it out for 12 hours. I had a very violent bug."

Thankfully, Brendan made a full recovery after his terrifying health scare.

Rory Cowan quits and no longer speak to cast

One of the titular Mrs Brown's boys, Rory is the hilarious son of Agnes, who was oblivious to the fact he is gay until the 'Mammy of the Groom' episode.

This is despite Rory constantly dropping hints to his mother, but he finally found the love of his life and married fellow hairdresser Dino Doyle in series 3.

Rory Cowan played the role of his namesake for 26 years on stage and screen, but shocked fans of the show by deciding to quit in July 2017.

The Dubliner insisted that the split from Brendan O'Carroll's comedy troupe had been completely "amicable" but he had not been enjoying it for two years.

Rory told the Irish Mirror: “I got tired of it, I haven’t been happy for the last two years working there.

“There was no row with Brendan, there was no dispute over money or anything, in fact quite the opposite, I got so well paid that it enabled me to be able to leave, I didn’t need to stay.”

"Touring is a young man's game and he just wanted to take some time off to reassess what he would do with the rest of his life," his agent told Mirror Online.

"It was an amicable split and he has worked with Brendan for years so there was no hard feelings."

Rory was immediately replaced by Damien McKiernan, who made his first appearance during the 2017 Christmas special.

Speaking on The Late Late show in Ireland, O'Carroll explained why Rory had decided to quit.

"Rory (Cowan) has left as he found touring gruelling. All my family go on the road," confessed Brendan.

"For me it is six month holiday with my grandkids but Rory’s mam has not been well for a long time and his life was around his mother. He worried about that. I was sorry to see him go but I was glad to see him happy.

“We now have a new Rory in the show. It is like he went for plastic surgery. We were going to get him come out of the shower like Bobby Ewing or out of a phone box like Doctor Who.”

He left on good terms, but Rory admitted last year that he no longer speaks to his former colleagues.

In September 2019, Rory said: "I don't keep in touch with the people I worked with on Mrs Brown's Boys. Not because I left on bad terms.

"It's like anybody who changes jobs. You leave and you just don't see the old work mates you used to work with."

Discussing his relationship with the show’s writer, he told the Independent: "I get texts from Brendan every few months saying there are repeat fees from the TV series going into my account, but that's it really.

"But I wish them all the best and I'd imagine they wish the same for me. But we don't see each other anymore. That's the same in any job really."

Agony at death of Brendan O'Carroll's sister

The Mrs Brown's boys cast are a tight-knit group - and with most of them being part of an actual family it makes it easier to come together in times of loss.

The entire clan were morning the loss of Fiona after she died in Canada in March this year.

Brendan and co-star Eilish were able to make it over the Atlantic to say their goodbyes to their sister before she sadly passed away.

Eilish, who plays Agnes' best friend and neighbour Winnie McGoogan, explained how they able to have one last laugh with Fiona.

Opening up about their family loss, she told the  Irish Mirror : “An awful lot had to be halted for me [recently].

“Sadly my sister took very ill and passed away in Canada on March 3.

“I had been out there with her for Christmas but we didn’t manage to get out until the day after she died.”

One of the reasons Rory Cowan cited for leaving Mrs Brown's Boys was to spend more time with his mother.

He had been on tour in Australia in January 2016 when he was told his mum, Esther, only had days to live but he could not get home due to an insurance issue.

Rory was able to spend one final Christmas with his beloved mother before she sadly passed away at the age of 85 in November 2018.

Grieving Cowan spoke at the funeral mass and told mourners: "I'm so glad she was my mother".

There was controversy at the funeral when his former pal Twink turned up unannounced and was told to "go home".

Twink, whose real name is Adele King, tried to approach the former Mrs Brown's Boys star following the service, but was told to leave

Speaking to the  Irish Mirror, Cowan said: "There has been bad blood between us for over a year now and there have been dreadful things said that can't be unsaid.

"She came over and tipped me on the shoulder and I told her: 'You shouldn't be here. This event is for family and friends and you are neither. Go home.'

"She would have known that I didn't want her there. She didn't consider my feelings at all.

"She was using my mother's funeral as a reason to reconcile and you just don't do that. I have no time for her."

Rory also shared a hilarious story about the time his mother met Cliff Richard and spent hours talking to him - about the trade union movement in Ireland.

He said: "She was chatting away to Cliff for hours and I was talking to everyone else and hoping that she wasn't boring him to death.

"I said to her afterwards 'what were you talking about?' and she said the trade union movement.

"He said 'no, I loved it. My whole life since 1959 is just talking about showbusiness. Your mother didn't mention it once.' That was like a breathe of fresh air to him."

He added: "That was my mother. What happened outside her window, it didn't matter because she would talk about what she knew about. She would talk about her family, because she loved her family."

Damien McKiernan's heartbreak over son's debilitating illness

Damien McKiernan, who took over from Rory Cowan during the 2017 Christmas special, has opeend up on the heartbreak over his son's debilitating illness

His family were rocked by the news that 12-year-old Theo has been diagnosed with a rare form of  arthritis, of which there are only 60 cases in the whole world.

Speaking about to the  Irish Mirror  in August last year, Damion explained: “He developed a very rare form of arthritis in his left leg, so rare that they didn’t know what it was.

“It’s never been recorded in Ireland or the UK before. There are only 60 cases worldwide.

“Eventually I said this was getting out of hand as his left leg was getting worse.

“I kicked up enough fuss and he got an operation just before Christmas.

“We stayed in hospital with him for a couple of weeks and we’ve been doing rehab with him ever since.

“I went to get him out of bed in May and it went into his right leg, the hospital were in shock.

“He had the second operation on his right leg in June. The right leg was stronger, the left leg almost withered away.”

The dad of two opened up on how tough things had been, revealing that hospital stuff tried to break his son's leg as part of treatment.

He added: “His left leg locked in one position so we’ve been rehabbing him at home. They are brilliant in Cappagh Hospital. They tried to break his left leg to get it working but they couldn’t.

“He’s in a bad way in a wheelchair and so we need to work really hard on the physio and hopefully by August he can get another operation on this left leg again.

“It’s been very tough. We hope with such a rare disease they can cure this, they have to open up his leg and file the bones so the joints can move.

“I have machines in the house and he can use a CPM machine at home to try to move his leg. Once we can get him on an exercise bike hopefully things will improve."

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