ACTOR Andrea Irvine is near the end of a “marathon” shoot and can’t wait to cross the finish line. 

She plays Garda Sergeant Angela Tyrell in TV3’s hugely successful Red Rock and, with shifts running from 7am to 7pm five days a week, it’s been a big stretch.

“We have such a fast turnover you are either constantly reading scripts or learning lines to keep up. 

"It’s a tough schedule, especially over a seven-month period. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint,” she says.

Aged 50, she lives in Dublin in an all-male household, right down to the family dog, Ed. 

Married to actor-turned-accountant Patrick Leech, they have two boys, aged 14 and 10.

Understandably, the juggling between work and home can be tough at times. 

“It’s not the same as with very young children, but there’s still a lot of running around; there is training four nights a week, matches at the weekend, music, and trying to make sure all that happens alongside both of us of having very full-time jobs. 

"It’s demanding, you just communicate. It does, miraculously, all happen,”

The Belfast-raised actor is careful not to moan, as there was a time when work was more sporadic and, when the offer to star in Red Rock was made, she was “hungry” to take it up. 

“I’m just very, very excited to be working.”

What shape are you in?

I’m in reasonably good shape but could be better. I run about twice a week, 7km each time. 

When we stop filming, I’ll push myself to get up to 10 or 11k.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I invested in a Nutribullet and am really enjoying it. With some of the juices I’m hanging on to the edge of the sink with white knuckles — I find them a bit gaggy, a bit swampy. 

But I do have a favourite, which is watermelon, cucumber, lime juice, and mint... absolutely delicious. 

That would be a favourite breakfast, and a boiled egg.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I eat lots of chocolate and biscuits. I also adore a bit of cake in the mid-afternoon with a cup of tea. 

Our local cafe does a bakewell tart cake and that’s my go-to for a bit of comfort and bit of sugar in the afternoon.

What would keep you awake at night?

Sometimes, I can get a bit anxious and a bit worried about stuff. 

One of the things I find hard in the job is when you are called in for an earlier morning. I find those nights quite hard to get to sleep. 

You know the best thing you could do is have a good night’s sleep, but there’s a little demon in there saying that’s not going to happen.

How do you relax?

I love taking my dog — a west highland terrier — for a walk in Phoenix park. It’s probably my favourite place in Dublin. I find that refreshing.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Caitlin Moran, Amy Schumer, and Sharon Horgan — all very funny and very feminist.

What’s your favourite smell?

The smell of a newborn. I remember a midwife telling me that was part of the reason the [labour ward] ] is such a happy place to work on is because the smell of newborn babies is so uplifting and intoxicating. 

And it’s another reason why you want to look after your baby.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I bite my nails and I have done so since childhood, I’ve made numerous attempts to stop and failed completely. 

Longer fingernails and nicely manicured hands — I think that would be nice.

When is the last time you cried?

Angela Tyrell is having a very hard time, so there have been quite a few tears shed on the set. I’m saving it all for work at the moment.

What traits do you least like in others?

Dishonesty. If I feel someone is telling lies or is not being straight with me, I do feel myself getting quite tense or annoyed with that.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I can over-think things and over complicate them. It makes me a little bit indecisive and it can lead to inaction.

Do you pray?

I don’t. I did as a teenager, but that was part and parcel of my upbringing in the North. 

But growing up in Northern Ireland turned me against religion completely and utterly. 

I believe in art, friendship, nature, family, good health, all of that. It’s enough.

What would cheer up your day?

The repeal of the eight amendment. 

It would be a big welcome to the 21st century for Ireland and women’s rights.


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