Actor Eilish O’Carroll: ‘My biggest mistake? Moving to West Cork and buying a cottage there in 2000’

 The Mrs Brown’s Boys star opens up about losing her sister, amazing women in their eighties and why she’d like Nicola Coughlan to play her 

Eilish O'Carroll. Photo: Ramona Farrelly

Born in Stoneybatter in Dublin 7, Eilish got into acting through amateur dramatics in England. She joined the cast of her brother Brendan’s hit show Mrs Brown’s Boys in 1999 to play Winnie McGoogan. She lives in Dublin.

What’s your earliest memory?
When my brother Brendan was born. I was three years old and my sister pulled me in from playing in the street and said, “I have something to show you.” I went over and there in the pink carrycot for my dolls was this “thing”. A baby brother.

When and where were you happiest?
When my two children were born in the UK. Stuart was born in Oxford and Lee was born in Reading.

What is your biggest fear?

What’s your least — and your most — attractive trait?
My least attractive would be my impatience and my most attractive would be my sense of humour.

What trait do you deplore most in other people?

What’s the first thing you’d do if you were Taoiseach?
I would make sure the ministerial positions were filled equally, 50:50 between women and men.

What’s your biggest insecurity?
In the future, not being able to do things that I can do now.

Who would you most like to go for a pint with?
There are three people I’d love to go for a pint with — Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. They are amazing women who have achieved a lot in their careers. Judi and Maggie are well into their eighties; they are still working and I find that so inspirational.

Which fictional character do you most identify with?

What is your most treasured possession?
I have a lovely pendant that my late sister, Fiona, gave me nearly 40 years ago. It says “Live, Love, Laugh”. That is my mantra in life and it is also the title of my show.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Chocolate, sweets, cream cakes, you name it. If it has sugar in it, I want to eat it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Not to take myself too seriously.

When did you last cry, and why?
On April 8. It was my sister Fiona’s birthday. She lived in Canada and I would have sent her flowers. We would normally be on WhatsApp having a good, long chat and instead, I had a good, long cry.

Who would play you in a film of your life?
I’d love Nicola Coughlan to play me because I think she is a brilliant actor. She is very funny and she just has a bubbly personality.

Do you believe in a God?
I don’t believe in God but I am very spiritually orientated.

What’s your favourite word?

What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?
Bridgerton. I’m well into the second series.

What’s been your closest brush with the law?
A ticket for speeding in Cork.

What’s the best mistake you ever made?
Moving to West Cork and buying a cottage there in 2000.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?
To be invisible.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I’d tell her to believe in herself, to trust in herself, not to take herself too seriously and to push the world in front of her.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Walking down O’Connell Street around about 1972. The elastic in my knickers went and they fell to the ground, and I was so embarrassed, I just stepped out of them and kept walking.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
Working as a cleaner in a mental hospital about 20 years ago. I didn’t have the heart for it.

Who would you like to have met from the world of history or showbiz?
Margaret Bulkley from Cork, who disguised herself as a man, Dr James Barry, to become a pioneering surgeon.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python.

Eilish is starring in ‘Waiting for Gateaux’ with ‘X Factor’ star Mary Byrne at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, from May 19-21,

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