Rory Cowan praises Brendan O’Carroll for breaking ‘taboo’ of homosexuality in Ireland

"I knew something big was happening."


Rory Cowan has praised Brendan O’Carroll for breaking “the taboo” of homosexuality in Ireland by ­including two gay characters in Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Mrs Browns Boys started as a radio soap back in 1992, before homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland in 1993.

In his new memoir, Mrs Cowan’s Boy, Rory writes: “When Mrs Brown’s Boys started on RTE 2fm in 1992 as a radio soap, you could be sent to jail if you were ­convicted of having sex with another man.”

“In most TV shows, gay characters were figures of fun, or had tragic lives. In the Mrs Brown’s Boys radio series, Brendan wrote in two gay characters, Rory and Dino, who were in a relationship.”

 Photographer: Alan Peebles

“This was a year before gay sex was decriminalised. Brendan broke a taboo. He wrote two characters into a prime time radio show and he made those characters likeable and just the same as everybody else,” he continued.

“And I was there when he was doing this. I played Rory in the radio soap opera. I knew something big was happening.”


The 60-year-old also revealed how he first came to work for Brendan in 1991 as his PR.

He explained: “Brendan told me he was looking for a publicist and he had two people in mind for the job, myself and another person who was involved in PR.”


“He was trying to decode who was most suitable for the job. And this is where it got interesting. I made my pitch for the position and told him what I thought I could bring to his organisation.”

“After I made my pitch, Brendan’s business partner said he had just one question. I had a feeling what was coming but I was going to wait to be asked.”

“He was getting flustered, trying to ask the question in a roundabout way while I just stood there looking at him saying nothing.”

Picture: Brian Mcevoy

Rory wrote: “Eventually Brendan said, ‘What he wants to know is if you’re gay?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, knowing I could be talking myself out of a job. ‘You’ve got the job,’ he said.”

“Are you giving me the job because I’m gay?,’ I asked with a hint of confusion in my voice. ‘Yes I am,’ Brendan replied with a big smile on his face.

“He explained: ‘I’ve heard that gay people are very creative so that’s a plus. But you’ve also told the truth when we asked you the question. We can trust you, that’s the most important thing. Welcome on board.’”