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Thursday 18 July 2019

'It really bothered me' - Rory Cowan explains why he quit Mrs Brown's Boys

Rory Cowan appeared on Saturday Night with Miriam to speak about his departure from Mrs Brown's Boys
Rory Cowan appeared on Saturday Night with Miriam to speak about his departure from Mrs Brown's Boys

Patricia Murphy

Rory Cowan has given his first television interview since departing Mrs Brown's Boys and said being so far away from his family and friends was the reasoning behind his shock exit from the show.

The actor (58) appeared on Saturday Night with Miriam to discuss his departure and opened up about a frightening family crisis that came about while he was touring in Australia with the show.

Rory Cowan appeared on Saturday Night with Miriam to speak about his departure from Mrs Brown's Boys
Rory Cowan appeared on Saturday Night with Miriam to speak about his departure from Mrs Brown's Boys

Cowan revealed that it "really bothered" him that he was not able to return home to Ireland when he was told his elderly mother had days to live, due to an insurance issue.

"We were in Australia the year before last in January and I got word. My mother has dementia. Before we left things were bad but she was still mobile. When I was in Australia I got word that she had days to live and I couldn't get home. I couldn't get home because it was an insurance issue. They said 'If your mother dies you can go home for a week and come back all the way to Australia, but if she doesn't die you can't go because if people want their money back for refunds, even if you're not in the show, even though Brendan is the star, you'd have to pay full price for every seat, which would have worked out at hundreds of thousands of dollars'. They explained it to me, they said 'It's just to stop other actors in a similar situation or musicians to not drop out of a tour'."

Cowan revealed that he believed the Mrs Brown's Boys tour visited Australia too many times throughout the last four years, instead of exploring other continents such as USA and Canada.

"It really bothered me that I was on the other side of the world and I didn't want to be there anyway because we'd only been there a couple of years before hand and if I stayed with Mrs Brown's Boys they're going back again in January next year and that would have been three visits to Australia in four years. I think that's too much."

Cowan, who began working as Brendan O'Carroll's publicist in 1991, revealed that he struggled with the lack of activity during the tour, and said he felt his qualifications were going to waste.

"In the early days I started out as Brendan's publicist and I was booking the gigs and I was doing the PR and all this type of stuff and I had a lot to do. I have a Higher Diploma in Marketing and PR and a certificate in Journalism and a certificate in Philosophy so I am qualified. As the show got bigger and bigger and bigger then you have promoters and you have producers and all the stuff that I had been doing, someone else was doing.

Rory Cowan and Brendan O'Carroll. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Rory Cowan and Brendan O'Carroll. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"Now I'm bored because I didn't have other things to do. I just had to go on stage at night and play the part of Rory Brown. For the rest of the time I'm abroad in arenas and stuff like that I have nothing to do. When my mother was at home sick I would prefer to be at home. I didn't like the idea of not having anything to do. I'm too qualified to be doing nothing."

Cowan said he would hate for people to think that he and Brendan had a falling out, and praised the star's generosity and kindness throughout the past 26 years.

"I decided this year in Cardiff on June 16 and I just said 'I'm going to hand in my notice'. Brendan must have known I wasn't happy because I'd said to him 'Brendan I want to hand in my notice, how much notice do you need?' He said, 'You can leave at the end of the week if you want'. He never asked me why I was leaving, I never told him I was leaving.

"Brendan always made me feel like part of the family. I've know Brendan for 26 years. I've known Danny since he was nine, he plays Buster and I've known Fiona who plays Maria since she was 12...

"Brendan was paying me very, very well and it enabled me to leave because I have money behind me now. I would hate to have said I needed to stay because I needed a wage. Brendan was a very very generous employer, and he still is.

"I just thought things were happening that were out of my control, like three visits to Australia in four years. That's too much. I think that's wrong.

"I'm still friends with Brendan, mind you, when I did hand in my notice it was most bizarre. After I handed in my notice I was really enjoying it because I thought, now I'm counting down the days until I can try something new. I didn't have much conversation with anybody because I was staying on my own."

The actor did not dispute a return to Mrs Brown's Boys, but said he will take this time to explore other professional avenues.

"The only way I would come back is if Brendan asked me, and I agreed or if I asked Brendan and he agreed. Brendan O'Carroll was never the reason I left. If I went back the reasons I left would still be there so I know I wouldn't be going back.

"I want to try other stuff on television and on radio. I would love my own weekend radio show and I think it might be popular because I was on the Ray Darcy Show and they did a Facebook live and there was over 100k views on it that day. It was the biggest they've ever had. That hit me that I'm quite popular."

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