IT was a Sunday night tradition. Families would huddle around the television while someone messed about with a wire coat hanger trying to get a grainy reception on RTE.
Sunday night was ‘Glenroe’ night, when thousands of families across Ireland got an insight into the life of Biddy and Miley, Dick and Mary and posh George who lived in the Manor House.
The final episode of ‘Glenroe’ aired on May 6, 2001, but Mary McEvoy who played Biddy for almost two decades says she’s often still called Biddy when she walks down the street.
“To be fair I think nowadays I’m more well known for being Mary McEvoy, but people still call me Biddy.”
Mary arrives in Derry next month to star in ‘The Matchmaker’ which runs at the Millennium Forum from Thursday, October 8th to Saturday 10th. And life for this veteran of Irish theatre couldn’t be better.
“If I had designed it myself life couldn’t be better,” she said. As well as a successful career in acting Mary’s background was farming. She’s recently given it up but insisted on keeping a few sheep.
“I love sheep. I have a few as pets. I’ve recently taken up forestry and have a crazy dream about having my own wild garden. And sure why not? I’m at a time in my life when I don’t owe anything to anybody.
“I’m also trying to get myself fitter so I’m out running. I call it ‘shoggling,’ a mixture of shuffling and jogging. I’m comically slow. That said if someone gave me a choice tomorrow between getting an Oscar or getting a good time in a 10K, I take the good time, no question.”
Mary is still friends with many of her co-stars from ‘Glenroe,’ a show she describes an “institution” in Ireland.
“I’m utterly grateful for the show and the stability it gave me for 16 years,” she declared.“I formed friendships with a quality that never goes.”
Mary hasn’t ruled out a return to soapland but she says it depends on the characters she’s offered - she’s on a mission to ensure that women of a certain age are portrayed properly.
“Women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s no longer go around in their slippers,” she said. “People are staying healthier and fitter. I want that to be reflected in roles, growing older can mean life is becoming a new adventure.”
In ‘The Matchmaker,’ Mary plays the sister of Jon Kenny’s character and all the female clients.
MORE STANDING OVATIONS THAN NOT
“The tour so far has been a huge success. We had more nights with standing ovations than nights when we haven’t.”
Based on the novella ‘Letters of a County Matchmaker’ by John B. Keane, the play follows the efforts of Dicky Mick Dicky O Connor to make matches for the lonely and lovelorn from all parts of the country.
Tickets are now available 71264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk. Opening Night Offer: all tickets £15.