Mrs Brown's Boys star Eilish O'Carroll wants to marry girlfriend 'to beat tax man'

'The main reason we are talking about getting married is because of property, because I'm f***ed, excuse my French'

Eilish with her partner Marion

Eugene Masterson

Mrs Brown's Boys star Eilish O'Carroll is toying with the idea of marrying her partner Marion after 20 years together in a bid to beat the taxman when one of them dies.

The couple owned a house in west Cork until Eilish decided to move home to Dublin four years ago, where most of her work is based.

Eilish, the sister of Mrs Brown creator Brendan O'Carroll, bought a house in the North Strand area of the capital, while Marion still owns a pad in her native Cork city.

"We have talked about marriage. We talk round it, talk about it and I campaigned hard and heavy for it because I just believe in choice and people having the rights in life as everybody else," says Eilish.

"It wasn't so I could march down the aisle. But the option is there if we ever want to do it," Eilish points out.

"The main reason we are talking about getting married is because of property, because I'm f***ed, excuse my French, if what I worked really hard for ends up in the taxman's pocket - and it will do because we are not married."

Eilish, who plays Winnie McGoogan in the hit TV show, was previously married to a man and has two sons from that relationship.

"I loved where I was in west Cork but it was just very isolated and most of the work I was doing was coming from Dublin," she says.

"So, it was like 'this is crazy, I might as well move up sooner rather than later' - and I'm glad I did because I wouldn't be able to afford it now, let me tell you.

"Marion still has a place in Cork city but we go between the two because I still have a lot of friends in Cork, which is lovely, so we have the best of both worlds."

Eilish, who celebrated her 70th birthday in November, admits that lockdown was difficult for her.

"The first one was OK because there was a bit of novelty to it and it gave me the opportunity to get the house cleaned and do the housework and all the jobs that you hadn't been doing. But after about two weeks I got bored with that and you're thinking 'this is going to end soon'.

"Then, of course, we were back into another lockdown. The second lockdown I found much, much harder, because at that stage I was thinking 'my life has been taken away from me'.

"I survived it, like most people, but it was very hard to get motivated, energy levels just plummeted. There was no work to be had. You couldn't go out anywhere. So that was really difficult, the second and third lockdowns."

Eilish now has a 15-month-old dog called Jacko.

"I got a dog because I thought I needed company," she says.

"I know it sounds really daft, but I need a reason to get out of bed some mornings. I thought 'I'm going to get a dog'. Marion had gone back to Cork and I went down and she said 'are you mad getting a dog, what are you getting one for?'

"I said, 'because I want a dog!' She said 'I don't want a dog!' I said 'I'm not asking you if you want a dog, I want a dog!'

"So I went down and got mine in Carlow. I wanted a small dog. I got a Jacktease, a cross between a Jack Russell and a Maltese. I call him Jacko. He gets me out for walks, and meeting people. I'm not an early riser, I'd be one of these people to go to bed at two in the morning.

"My dog sleeps on the bed and around 10.30am or 11am he's the one pacing up and down the hallway, 'get the lead, I want to go'.

"It stops you wallowing in self-pity and action obviously brings all sorts of reaction, and it's like 'unless I get up and move I'm not going to feel any better', so from that point of view he's been a life saviour."

Eilish has lost two sisters, Maureen and Fiona, and a sister-in-law, in the past two years and the family organised a memorial service and get-together last weekend in Corduff and Ongar in Dublin.

"It was really needed, because we didn't get a chance as a family to actually grieve together, so there was a lot of snots and tears last weekend," she admits.

Relations from near and far made it, but Brendan could not.

"Brendan lives in Florida and he only comes back for the tours to be honest with you, he's very rarely home. And if he is, it's not for any length of time.

"He will come home also at Christmas time to see his children, but other than that no, he doesn't come back," she admits.

"There were 11 siblings originally, but I only ever remember 10 because one of them passed away before I was born. So my memory when I was growing up was there was 10 siblings. Now there are six," she reflects.

Having played Winnie for over a decade and having been on Dancing With The Stars three years ago, Eilish confirms she occasionally gets recognised in public.

"The funny thing is they actually recognise the voice when I'm out, they recognise me as Winnie. But because I've done a lot of interviews on TV as myself and I did Dancing With The Stars and so on, people are beginning to recognise me for me.

"But certainly when I'm out shopping or I'm introduced to somebody, they will go 'are you that woman on Mrs Brown's Boys?'. I have to say I'm getting to look like her every single day as time goes on," she laughs.

Eilish and former X Factor singer Mary Byrne will shortly appear in the play Waiting for Gateaux in Portlaoise, with the possibility of a nationwide tour later in the year.

The story tells the story of the Mo-tivators, the worst health and fitness club in the country.

"My character is Maureen, a fiftysomething widow, she's a sad character," maintains Eilish. "Slimming World has become her world. It's the only company she has during the week.

"It's more a story about people's lives that it is about slimming. It's very character driven and I love scripts like that, where every character has a great back story and is identifiable, that people can relate to each character and it's a very funny play, but it's also about real life.

"There's a love interest, there's a philandering husband. It's an inner-city club, which is set in a hall which Maureen has leased. But it could actually be anywhere."

Asked if she is health conscious, Eilish smirks: "In my head I am. I talk a good story. I'd say, 'you shouldn't really eat that because it's really not good for you', 'you should walk at least five kilometres a day'.

"I try my best to do it but I fail miserably. I'm unlucky as I have a terrible sweet tooth. I could give up a dinner and have two desserts and that would me my idea of a really good meal."

Waiting For Gateaux runs at the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise from May 19 to 21. See

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