Mrs Brown’s Boys' Eilish O’Carroll details abuse she suffered from first husband


Eilish O'Carroll, best known for her role as Winnie McGoogan in Mrs Brown's Boys. File picture: Denis Minihane

Mrs Brown’s Boys star Eilish O’Carroll has opened up about suffering physical and psychological abuse by her first husband.

Speaking to The Ciara Phelan Podcast, Ms O’Carroll, who plays Winnie McGoogan in the TV show, said it took eight years for her to leave the marriage, which began in 1971.

“It really was a situation that any woman would have wanted to get out of, and it took eight years,” she said.

"After six months of marriage, I knew 'this was bad, but I didn’t know how to get out of it.'

“And I remember once, after a particularly bad experience, I remember feeling desperate and at rock bottom that I thought I’d never get out of this ... and I have to plan to get out of it.”

Ms O’Carroll said she put away any money she could get her hands on to use as a “runaway” fund, and spoke about finding the strength to leave the relationship.

She also spoke of the control she faced at a time when there were few support services, and how she fought to get sole ownership of her house.

Ms O’Carroll, who has two sons from her first marriage, said it was “the best thing I ever did”.

She married again, but told how she later fell in love with a woman at the time that she was celebrating her 40th birthday.

She said she confided in her then-husband, who offered her support: 

When I look back now, it took me years to come to terms with it, until I was 50, to actually accept I am gay, but the journey from that day to this day was quite painful.

“I didn’t handle it right in any way, shape, or form ... I didn’t tell my sons, although they were teenagers at the time. I felt they would reject me ... the only person I spoke to at the time was my husband, and he was extremely supportive.”

Ms O’Carroll will mark her 20-year anniversary with her partner Marian this year and urged other men and women who are in difficult situations not to be afraid to talk to somebody.

On the podcast, she also opens up about telling her two sons that she is gay, what growing up in the O’Carroll household was like, and the success of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

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