Taking her lead from some of television’s most iconic barmaids, Fair City star Rebecca Grimes can’t wait for McCoy’s bar to reopen for more drinks, drama and dreamboats for Hayley Collins.
And Magazine+ was the first to get back inside the Carrigstown boozer, and to try out the comfy seats which have seen many a riveting storyline unfold. The set which makes up the interior of McCoy’s has been off-limits for the past couple of years due to problems with space and social distancing, which required strict health and safety guidelines.
Viewers were only lately able to see happenings involving the hostelry centre in its beer garden, while the only interior pub scenes played out in recent years in the hit soap focused on the Station bar.
Hayley Collins is pretty much the current owner of McCoy’s, what with her birth mother Ger Lynch scarpering off to Spain under a cloud following the shocking death of Will Casey, and possibly not coming back.
Dubliner Rebecca Grimes plays glamorous Hayley and she admits the cast are excited about the imminent return of the iconic pub. “We were back the other day, obviously filming there for the first time since it closed, and there was a real sense of excitement,” she says.
“Everyone was saying ‘McCoy’s is open, McCoy’s is open’, so we we’re definitely all thrilled and then everyone is looking forward to what scenes we are doing and ‘when is it my turn to be back in?’. So it’s great, I can’t wait to be fully back in, pulling pints and chatting to all the regulars and stuff.”
Rebecca laughs when asked does she feel akin to the likes of Bet Lynch inCoronation Street’s Rovers Return or Angie Watts in EastEnders institution, The Queen Vic. “Absolutely, any of those icons I would gladly take a comparison to,” she smiles. “It’s starting to feel we are kind of getting there now and I’m delighted to be back behind the bar.
“I think it’s an iconic kind of landmark within Carrigstown and it always has been, so I think viewers will be delighted to see that back on.”
Rebecca has also had a bit of practice in real life. “I’ve worked in many a pub over the years. One of my first jobs when I was 18, I would pull pints. I loved it, I loved working in bars.”
She is unsure if we will ever see colourful criminal Ger, played by Tina Kellegher, back in Carrigstown.
“I don’t know. I’d love to see her back obviously, as I think everybody would, but I don’t know what the storyline has planned,” she answers. “These are all top-secret things which we don’t know yet, or any sign of that.
“She was brilliant. People loved that type of character in the pub as well, so hopefully I can live up to her legacy.”
Fans have also seen a bit of spark between Hayley and musician turned barman Jon McCarthy (Paul McQuaid) in McCoy’s.
“Certainly, there is lots of flirting and there’s been kind of moments,” she teases. “I think Hayley has been very guarded lately when it comes to love. She has had so many heartbreaks and failed relationships, I suppose, things that didn’t go her way.
“She has been very guarded, but she certainly likes the look of Jon and they get on well, so hopefully there is potential for something exciting. But it is soap, so nothing ever runs too smoothly, you know.”
Hayley has had her share of prior relationships. “Her most recent serious kind of relationship was with detective Steve Yates. She did always like an older gentleman. There was Robbie as well, and Paul Brennan. So, she has had a few older guys.”
Hayley has also got caught up in the gambling addiction storyline involving her adopted father Anto (Paul Ronan), who, along with his wife Sharon (Neili Conroy), raised her since she was a baby. She even managed to clear Anto’s gambling debts by taking out a loan for €25,000 against the pub.
“She definitely wants to help and I think she is trying to toe the line between tough love and then genuinely giving them a dig out,” explains Rebecca, who joined the long-running RTÉ soap in 2015.
“It’s a very complex kind of situation for anyone to be in and you can imagine you would be pulled in all directions, emotionally and logically and all of those kind of things. So, she is trying to navigate that and figure out what is ultimately the best and what is best for the family.
“It’s a really good storyline to be a part of. I think it’s a really kind of relevant and important story, so you’re just hoping you can do it justice. She was so close to Anto. She certainly feels betrayed by this life and just really sad and devastated that this is happening to the family.”
Rebecca enjoys life in north Dublin with her boyfriend Paul and their rescue dog, Lola. “It’s all good. [I’m] just really enjoying this. It has been a really intense storyline and just long days and long hours and it’s great,” she beams.
At the end of each week’s shoot, she has been enjoying the good weather, lots of swimming in the sea and meeting up with friends.
But like the rest of us, Rebecca admits she loves to get away.
“We’re planning little trips here and there. We were away in Venice in May, that was lovely. I just adore Italy. Friends of ours are getting married in Spain in September, so we will go to that as well.”