Eilish O’Carroll: Sometimes we didn’t get paid for Mrs Browns Boys


Eilish O’Carroll has spoken about the difficulty touring Mrs Brown’s Boys for more than a decade before the show became a TV hit, revealing that the cast sometimes didn’t get paid.

The Dublin actress, 68, who plays Winnie McGoogan alongside her brother Brendan O’Carroll in the show, opened up about the uncertain existence led by the cast in the show’s early years on stage.

Eilish is preparing to tour her new show Live, Love, Laugh this winter, but speaking to Ireland AM, she said the cast learned ‘what it was to stand on sticky carpets’ prior to the show’s TV breakthrough.

Eilish O’Carroll has spoken about how tough life on the road was in the early years of Mrs Brown’s Boys. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Mrs Brown’s Boys is now one of the most-watched shows in Ireland and the UK, spawning three series, Christmas specials, spin-off chat show All Round to Mrs Brown’s and Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, but it wasn’t always so easy.

‘I did real jobs,’ she said. ‘We were nearly 15 years on the road with Mrs Brown’s Boys before it went viral, so we knew what it was to stand on sticky carpets and so on so forth.

‘We didn’t stay in the best of hotels, sometimes we didn’t get paid. Sometimes we got [per diems] and we didn’t get wages; sometimes we got wages.

‘But we stayed because we loved it, and I think we all knew on some level, this was actually going to be big at some point. I was hoping I wasn’t going to be on the shelf by then.’

Eilish also spoke about the decision she and her partner Cork-based Marion O’Sullivan made to live separately during the second lockdown after initially cocooning together in Dublin

‘We were really irritating each other, she said. ‘Your day is spent just trying to fill hours, and I’m tired of hoovering and cleaning.

Eilish with brother Brendan O’Carroll in Mrs Brown’s Boys. Pic: BBC Studios – Photographer: Alan Peebles

‘There was a morning when we both got up, and I just happened to say — and you when you say words and you want to take them back immediately. Right, so I just said, very calmly, why don’t you go back to Cork.

‘I think I got the tone wrong,’ she said. ‘But if she’s honest — and she was — she was relieved.’

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