Rory Cowan pays tribute to his beloved mother Esther, and makes us chuckle along the way, in Mrs Cowan’s Boy, a new book about his relationship with his biggest supporter.
In it, he tells of his unique relationship with his mum,and how she set him on the path from mischievous teenager to top funnyman by instilling confidence in him as a youngster.
Crammed with tales of growing up in 1970s Ireland, it’s a love letter to the power of family.
Not that he paid heed to his family’s advice in the early days, he freely admits.
“I’ve a charmed life because I never took advice from anyone on anything. My mother wanted me to work in a bank and I deliberately failed maths and went to work in a record shop. I ended up working for [record label] EMI and working with some of the world’s top names.”
After leaving, he developed a career in entertainment and became a star through the broad appeal of Brendan O’Carroll’s smash-hit show, Mrs Brown’s Boys.
The TV and live shows became an international success, but in 2017 Rory announced he was quitting to spend more time with his mum, who had developed dementia and whose health was in decline.
She passed away last year.
Rory has also been an active campaigner for dementia awareness and the need for greater home-care packages and supports for people with the condition in Ireland.
As well as championing it in his book, he features as a new character, a carer to a woman who has dementia [played by Geraldine Plunkett] in Fair City.
What shape are you in?
I’m in very good shape at the moment. Last year I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
So I cut out sugar, I go for a brisk walk for an hour to an hour-and-a-half every day. I work to keep the weight down.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I go back to the old way of eating.
Meat, two veg and a portion of potatoes. I’d have poached eggs for breakfast and won’t eat again until I have a light lunch.What are your guiltiest pleasures?Fry’s Turkish Delight. I absolutely love it.
What would keep you awake at night?
Something that I’d done that I shouldn’t have done.
Or something I hadn’t done that I should have.
How do you relax?
I have two cats, Pebbles and Bam Bam, named after the characters in The Flintstones.
Lynda Martin got them for me from a rescue centre. With the two cats around, I find any stress is gone immediately. I couldn’t imagine not having them now.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
John Lennon — I love his music and there are lot of questions I’d like to ask him. Elton John would be another one. I’ve just seen his film and there’s loads I’d love to know, though he might tell me to mind my own business.
Also, Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler.
What’s your favourite smell?
I’ve lavender plants outside my bedroom, they’re very good for helping me sleep. I use a lavender spray on my pillow as well. It’s strong but not overpowering.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I did change something, though not much. Between my eyes there was a vertical line and it just bothered me. I got filler put in.
The rest doesn’t bother me at all.When is the last time you cried?I’d cry on my own if I’m watching something on the television, like a moving news story of people who have done something special.
Like the woman, Vera Twomey, who walked from Cork to get cannabis oil for her daughter. When I saw her arrive in Dublin I was in bits.
What traits do you least like in others?
I’m an incredibly loyal person and it means I can be let down very easily. And people who are two-faced and put others down.
There are so many people like that.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I find it very hard if there’s a row, to forget about it. I would like to change that. If you’re going to hold a grudge, do it over something serious.
Do you pray?
I never go to Mass except for funerals. But I’d still say a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers, and talk to my parents and friends who have passed.
What would cheer up your day?
Going out for a walk and listening to music in my headphones. I love going out in all weathers.
Mrs Cowan’s Boy is published by Gill Books.