From London to Dublin for happiness, love and drama
By Laura Lynott @Ly211
Irish actress Rebecca O’Mara who played the short-lived love interest of British TV bad boy Daniel Mays in BBC crime drama Line of Duty – has revealed how she moved back home to Ireland to find “happiness,” and incidentally an Irish man on Tinder.
Rebecca O’Mara, 39, who grew up in Sandycove, Co Dublin, spent 12 years in London, bagging roles on stage and screen.
She is the voice behind Caitlin, the only Irish lady engine on TV children’s favourite, Thomas and Friends – and she recently starred alongside bad boy Daniel Mays in Line of Duty – one of the most popular shows ever on the BBC.
Rebecca played a teacher in the high octane police action drama earlier this year – and she became the envy of women across the UK and Ireland when she got to kiss Mays’ notorious character, cop killer Danny Waldron.
“I met Daniel Mays in the first episode and he was in all sorts of trouble,” Rebecca said.
“I met him in a bar and we hit it off. There was always the possibility that he might have this life with this woman, my character, Rachel.
“It was beautiful and tender because it’s a full on show but his character died at the end of the first episode – and that was a shocker because everyone thought he would be the lead of the series.”
Rebecca said Mays’ character “fancied the pants off Rachel.”
“They had a kiss, swapped numbers, he gets deeper in to trouble and she expects to go for another drink but by that time Danny is dead.”
But though Mays has a reputation as a bad boy – he has played thug Jason in Mike Leigh’s All or Nothing and was thought to be the Devil in his role as DCI Jim Keats in another police TV show, Ashes to Ashes – Rebecca insists he is “lovely.”
“I wanted to work with Daniel, as he’s one of my favourite actors and he’s a special human being, a lovely man. I knew it was something I wanted to do and it ended up being one of biggest shows in the UK.
“I’d love to do more TV like that and something over here in Ireland – and there’s a lot of exciting filming going on in Ireland at the moment.”
But Rebecca, who is currently rehearsing for Helen and I, a Druid theatre production to be staged in Galway next month – admits though she got “caught up” in London life – there really was no place like home in the end
“London is a really full on place,” Rebecca said. “It’s really intense – it’s fine when you’re on top.
“As an actor we have to do a balancing act of having one foot in each country but I saw an opportunity of a better life here in Ireland.
“I had a place in Islington and sold up four years ago and now I live in Booterstown. I came back at a tough time in Ireland after the crash but I just knew we could do it, get back on our feet – and I loved being home.”
She still works in the UK and has an agent in both countries – the perfect balance she insists. The actress says she loves returning to London to work but enjoys coming home too.
Not long after she returned the actress – sister to Jason O’Mara – who lives in Hollywood and has just landed a top role as The Director in Marvel’s Agents of Shield, found she was being snapped up for coveted roles at the Abbey Theatre and earlier this year she starred as Desdemona in Othello – and she is currently in talks for another project.
But there was one thing missing. After a long-period as a single career woman, she found Mr Right in the strangest of places, on dating app with a reputation for casual flings.
“We met on Tinder,” Rebecca said of her and her composer boyfriend, Ciaran Hope.
“I sort of think online dating is still viewed with a little bit of shame in Ireland.
“People are unsure about saying they met someone online, but so many people are doing it so why not say.
“I’m delighted I did try it because I found a man it felt like I should have found anyway and online dating just helped me meet him.
“Ciaran is a composer, he’s a Meath man. We have been together a year and I had been single a really long time.
“It’s really hard to meet people in London and online dating just gave me options to go out and date and have fun and then I met the man I felt I had so much in common with.”
Ironically, Ciaran had been involved in the movie business too – he had composed the soundtrack to The Letters, a 2014 drama exploring the lifelong friendship Mother Theresa shared with Father Celeste van Exem over a 50 year period.
Ciaran had also lived away from Ireland in LA for 17 years – so he knew what it was like to come back home after so many years away.
“When I stopped putting emphasis on finding a mate it became easy and then I met Ciaran,” she said.
“He’s been in LA 17 years. He did all of that and like me, he decided to come home for happiness too, just like me. He’s from a very similar life and it’s absolutely lovely we found each other.
“It’s an exciting time for us building a home back in Ireland after being away so long – it’s like we were meant to find each other.”
The couple are both very holistic – they medidate and go for walks. Ciaran is a vegetarian and Rebecca feels it will be her next step. She practises yoga and jogs a little for fitness. The actress is also very careful about what she eats.
“When I was younger I put my career first,” Rebecca said. “That was priority number one and I put it before me.
“Then I had to take a step back because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was drinking a lot, smoked a lot. I was caught up in that whole world in London.
“I got to the point I was working a lot. I had to put the brakes on and say is this really what I want, what I want to be.
“I had to assess things. I stopped drinking and smoking.”
Rebecca left London behind and now lives by the coast in Booterstown. She wouldn’t swap her life in Dublin for the fast lane in the UK again.
“I’m happy here?” she said.
Rebecca will appear as Lynn, a woman battling mental health issues and family dysfunction, in Helen and I at The Mick Lally Theatre in Galway from 9 – 18 September.
For tickets, go to http://www.druid.ie/productions/helen-and-i