'It broke my heart to miss Christmas with mum - it's great to be home', says Rory
After years of spending Christmas working abroad with Mrs Brown's Boys, Rory Cowan says that being able to spend the festive season in his hometown with his mother Esther means the world to him.
While getting a last-minute call to take over one of the leading roles in the Olympia panto, Polly and the Beanstalk, has altered his plans, he said he couldn't be happier.
"This Christmas I won't be finishing a long UK tour a week or two before it, which meant I was really exhausted before. This year it's great," Rory told the Herald.
"I've had a good break from touring and I'll also be working in my home city, which means I get to sleep in my own bed. That's a luxury to me.
"The fun of Christmas parties is long gone for me.
"But have you noticed that you never lose the inner child in you and you still get the excitement of going to a panto every Christmas? And this year I'm actually in one. How fabulous is that?"
Having performed in the Dame Street theatre many times over the years while working with Brendan O'Carroll and his crew, he said it's a venue of which he has fond memories.
"It's a theatre I love and working over the Christmas period will be great," he said.
"It means I won't have to listen to all my friends and neighbours asking why I don't have a Christmas tree or decorations up."
Part of the reason he decided to quit the hit comedy show after 26 years was to be closer to Esther, who has dementia.
Rory said last year's hectic touring schedule with the show meant that he was over in Australia when his mum was very ill, which he said "broke my heart".
"I'm in a happier place now because I'm home and I can pop over to see my mother whenever I want," he added.
The actor, who played Agnes Brown's son in the hit comedy series, said he didn't hesitate to agree to the panto role when he got a last-minute phone call from theatre owner Caroline Downey.
"Straight away, I said, 'Yeah, I'd be available'. I wasn't doing anything anyway. I love panto," he said.
Despite his replacement being revealed on one of the two Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas specials, Rory said he has absolutely no curiosity about who's taking over the role.
"It's not my business any more who they get. I have no interest," he said.