Fame was ‘just horrible’ says Glenroe star

Its been 40 years since the show first graced Irish television screens.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

17.58 2 Dec 2023

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Fame was ‘just horrible’ says...

Fame was ‘just horrible’ says Glenroe star

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

17.58 2 Dec 2023

Share this article

A lead actor from Glenroe has said the fame that came with appearing on the RTÉ show was “just horrible”.  

Mary McEvoy joined The Anton Savage Show today to mark 40 years since Glenroe first graced Irish TV screens.

She was joined by fellow cast members Isobel Mahon, Alan Stanford, and Geraldine Plunkett, who shared memories of their time working on the show that first aired in 1983.


It ended up running for 18 seasons before concluding in 2001.

Ms McEvoy, who played the character of Biddy Byrne, said she did not enjoy fame.

“I didn’t like it [the fame].  When Glenroe started there was no celebrity culture, there was no celebrity magazines – there was nothing,” she said.

“We were just actors doing a gig; we didn’t have that perception of fame and it was just horrible.

“Anytime we saw school kids we’d go ‘Oh God help us’ because we would be mobbed.”

Ms McEvoy added that she would often pretend to members of the public she was not a Glenroe actress to get out of certain situations.

Despite not enjoying the fame, she said she was “devastated” when the show came to an end.

“They dropped the ball. I thought it was the wrong decision and they’ve never replaced Glenroe, it’s still in the people's mind,” said Ms McEvoy.


Isobel Mahon, who played Michelle Haughey, said the public saw the cast as the fictional characters they were playing.

“They thought we were the characters, that’s who they wanted to see; but the other side of it was that people treated you like family which was really gorgeous,” she said.

Geraldine Plunkett, who played Mary McDermott-Moran, was indifferent towards the fame.

“We all were recognised quite regularly, but to be perfectly truthful, it didn’t bother me whether I would be recognised or not recognised whenever I was out,” she said.

The beauty of Glenroe

English actor Alan Stanford, who played George Manning in the Wicklow-based drama, explained why he believed the show was so successful.

“The whole beauty of Glenroe, what made it important in the hearts of the audience, was that they recognised the series was not about rural Ireland or urban Ireland.

“It was about the gradual growing together of the two. We had the finger on the pulse of how rural Ireland was changing at the time.”

Different medium

Mr Stanford said there is a big difference between the fame that comes from starring in a movie and a TV series like Glenroe.

“It’s a different medium, but people often confuse it with cinema when it’s not the same thing,” he said.

“People go to the movies but television comes to you. We were in people’s living rooms every Sunday; it became a ritual.

“They owned us, in a sense, because we were in their homes every week. To become popular on television, it is on the basis that you are part of the family watching.”

Mr Stanford added that modern nostalgia means the show "could be repeated" in a different format someday.

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