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Saturday 3 December 2016

The comical Irish mammy stands up as Deirdre O'Kane returns to the stage

deirdre
deirdre

Deirdre O'Kane has done it all. She'll tell you so herself.

But we're not talking about the renowned Irish actress and comedian's career here. What we're talking about is her role as a bona-fide 'Irish Mammy'. "Oh, I've done it all," smiles Deirdre, sharing stories about her two young children, Holly and Daniel. "Except Facebook. Some people follow their kids on Facebook [under] an alias, but I would never do that. That's one step too far."

Why is Deirdre O'Kane talking about her kids and social media? Because she's the new face of an Irish Life campaign that 'celebrates' the 'Irish Mammy' and encourages more families to take out life insurance - that's why.

The hook here is that the folks over at Irish Life have done their research, and whaddaya know? Almost one in three Irish mammies are guilty of spying on their kids, with some going to extraordinary lengths to ensure their family's safety and protection. It's all good in Deirdre's household, however. For the time being, the only thing she has to worry about is her 10-year-old daughter's Instagram account.

"It all comes in through my phone," says Deirdre, "so I see it all. She's not old enough to care, but several times I've seen things I didn't like and I've had to say to her 'that's not appropriate, that's not good', and then you realise you have to be on it - that is your job, you have to know what the hell is going on. It's shocking."

So, too, apparently, is the very idea of motherhood. "I think everybody has the moments when you go, 'Oh God, I am my mother'," explains Deirdre. "When you catch yourself losing your temper, that's the worst. You really can't believe you've become that person who shouts. You go, 'I thought I'd be much cooler than this'. Children will push you, and that's why patience is a bloody virtue, you've got to have it in abundance."

Based in London with her screenwriter and director husband, Stephen Bradley, O'Kane has had plenty of patience when it comes to her career. She'd happily encourage her kids to go into acting - or, more accurately, to find a job that they love and to never let go (Deirdre never entertained the idea of a back-up plan). The rejections ain't easy, she admits, but from the outside looking in, this past year has been a very good one for O'Kane.

theatre

First up, there was both the second and third season of Chris O'Dowd's award-winning Moone Boy, in which Deirdre stars as series regular Debra Moone. Various theatre jobs landed at her feet and, perhaps best of all, Noble - a critically -acclaimed film, directed by her husband, in which O'Kane starred as Irish children's rights campaigner, Christina Noble - took off with international audiences.

"Yeah, but I didn't work for ten months of last year," says O'Kane . "That's the interesting thing. It looked like I was very busy, because there was Moone Boy and there was Noble, but they were long shot and long done."

Which suited her just fine as a parent, but ten months is a long time to go without work, not least when both O'Kane (45) and her husband make a living on a gig-to-gig basis. "That's just ongoing," she nods. "We're used to it. We've never done it any other way. It's circus life, you know, Steve makes films and telly and I do what I do. If one of us is working, we're happy.

hilarious

"I've never known security," she continues. "Good years and bad years, our earnings are hilarious. I mean, you can have a great year followed by nothing, so there's never any room for excess."

This Friday marks O'Kane's return to stand-up with a headline gig in Bray. Curiously, it'll be her first proper comedy show in almost six years, what with O'Kane having taken a break to focus on the stage and screen acting. "Do you know what? I started writing again because I was kind of desperate," she says. "I had had ten quiet months and I think I kind of realised I actually have to express myself, or I'll die. It's innate in me, you know, it's a need that I actually have to do it, because when I don't do it, I don't do well.

"I kind of get a bit bored, I shop a lot, and then I get very sick - ugh, when I do the housework thing, which drives me up the wall, so I've realised if nobody else is hiring me, I really have to do it myself. You get to a point where you realise, 'oh, it's actually quite an organic thing, it's not a vanity project."

Later this year, O'Kane will return home again, reuniting with Dandelions playwright, Fiona Looney for the world premiere of, Are you there Garth? It's Me, Margaret, at the Gaiety Theatre (it's a play about the Great Garth Brooks Fiasco of 2014). One thing is for sure, the Louth-born performer is never away from Ireland for too long.

"There's no need to be [in London] at all, I don't know why we're there," she says, laughing. "We just thought we wanted a change. Ireland is small and I got to a point where I thought, if somebody wanted to hire me, they will, they know what I do now, they know what I'm good at, I don't really need to be here, so we ended up going to London… I feel like I have the best of both worlds."

One of the jobs that keeps her coming back is her role in the aforementioned Sky sitcom, Moone Boy, filmed in Boyle, Co Roscommon.

"I don't think they will do a fourth season," says Deirdre, "I think they will make Moone Boy: The Movie, that's what they want to do, and I'd say they'll probably make that happen next year, because (writers) Nick Vincent Murphy and Chris O'Dowd are very keen to do it and I know Sky are happy to do it, so why wouldn't they?

"Obviously, I would do it in a heartbeat. It's a lovely job…"

Deirdre O'Kane headlines Bray Comedy Club in The Martello this Friday

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