| 7°C Dublin

fresh start Fair City star Maclean Burke says finding love again lifted him out of depression after marriage split

Actor reveals that a close friend set him up with his stunning new partner, HSE worker Cat Nolan.

Close

Maclean with his new girlfriend Cat Nolan

Maclean with his new girlfriend Cat Nolan

Maclean with his new girlfriend Cat Nolan

Fair City actor Maclean Burke says finding love again lifted him from the depths of depression after his marriage broke down.

And 42-year-old Burke, who plays Damien Halpin in the hit soap, reveals that a close friend set him up with his stunning new partner, HSE worker Cat Nolan.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Maclean says: "I met Cat through a mutual friend when I was by no means ready to be out dating or doing anything.

"My buddy was like, 'Look, this one is a bit of fun, see what happens.' I went on a date and the rest just kind of took care of itself. We're now together two and a half years.

"We have so much in common. Thankfully I met Cat when I was in the throes of depression with the failed marriage.

"This little lady came along and picked me up and got me going and refocused my mind. There's two of us in it now and we're enjoying life and moving forward in our 40s."

Close

Maclean Burke who will be appearing in  Once Upon a Panto  in the Olympia Photo: Tony Gavin

Maclean Burke who will be appearing in Once Upon a Panto in the Olympia Photo: Tony Gavin

Maclean Burke who will be appearing in Once Upon a Panto in the Olympia Photo: Tony Gavin

Maclean has four children aged from 20 to 10 from his marriage to ex-wife, Ashleen, while his new partner, Cat, also has three children.

"We have seven kids between the two of us," he says.

"Cat has two older boys more or less the same age as my lads, and then she has a younger boy who is 10, the same as my daughter, Beau, and they get on great.

"The blended family really works and I've learned a lot from Cat and her lads and vice versa. It's really good. I actually really enjoy it." Burke says he also has an amicable relationship with Ashleen.

"Cat gets on well with my ex-wife," Mclean tells me. "We're very lucky in that we've tried to be as adult as possible about it. Our marriage just ran its course.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"We could no longer meet eye to eye, unfortunately. But there's no animosity there. It is what it is and we're trying to be grown up about it and moving forward."


Close

Maclean Burke as panto dame Polly

Maclean Burke as panto dame Polly

Maclean Burke as panto dame Polly

Despite the failure of his marriage, the popular actor says he has no regrets when it comes to his relationship with his children.

"The one thing in life that I'm really good at is that I'm really good with my kids,"

Mclean says. "I'm really good at being Dad. I will always 100 per cent put them first. I have to say I enjoyed having them so young. They got the best of me because I had all the energy in the world. I don't regret it for a minute.

"There are friends of mine now starting their family, and best of luck to them but I couldn't do it.

"My eldest fella will be 21 in February, which is nearly the age when I had him. He just laughs at me now. 'There you were at 26 years of age with three kids.' We had stepping stones for kids at one stage.

"I was in my teens when I started in Fair City and I'm in my 40s now.

"No matter where you go there's always someone who has watched it. I remember being in a remote part of Norway one time and the next thing I hear, [mimics Dublin accent] 'Ah here Damien, what are ya doin' here?' It was some Dublin woman who happened to be there.

"The odds of that is mental, but that's been the story of my life. There's nowhere I go that I don't get, 'No way, are you the fella from Fair City?!'

He recalls a hilarious incident with Fair City fans while he was shooting Saving Private Ryan.

The actor says he avoids late night venues where people are drunk. "I call it 'the witching hour.' If I'm out and about I get out before that happens. You get to a certain time in your life where you've had enough."

"We were all in Kelly's in Rosslare," Mclean reveals. There was a bunch of us - Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore and Vin Diesel… loads of heads. I was there with Victor Burke [Wayne Molloy in Fair City].

"These two women walked in and I was watching them as they nodded at our group. I thought, 'This must be the life for Tom Hanks, a constant flow of people coming up to him.'

"They made a bee-line to where he was, and at the very last minute they just stopped turned to Victor. Tom Hanks is two seats away and they go, 'How'ya, are you yer man off Fair City?' Hanks was completely ignored because they didn't recognise him.

"I'll never forget it. That's what this show is like. It's because people have grown up with you. Damo has been on the screen since he was a teenager and now I'm in my 40s, and they're in their 40s, and so you're actually part of the furniture."

- Maclean Burke will star in Olly, Polly & The Beanstalk at Dublin's Olympia Theatre from December 22 to January 9.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices