Clelia Murphy: ‘Becoming a mum at 22 was the best thing that will ever happen to me’

Life Lessons: Clarabelle is smart, articulate, incredibly passionate, and is the kindest person I know

Clelia Murphy is an actor from Dublin, who played Niamh Cassidy on Fair City for 22 years. She stars in GYM SWIM PARTY, a new play that premieres at the O'Reilly Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2019.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your life?

Being a working single parent. Parenting is hard. Parenting alone is a different type of hard. Not having someone else who can share equal responsibility is tough. As an actor, you have to take the work when it comes, in order to pay the bills and keep the roof over our head, meaning I missed a lot of my daughter Clarabelle’s important school milestones: sports days, school plays, and even her graduation day from senior school. The day she fell and broke her arm in the school playground, my grandfather was the one who was there to pick her up and bring her to hospital. I was on set so I didn’t have my phone when the school was ringing me. Thank the gods, old and new, I had the family I had.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

My mother armed me with this sage piece of advice: whenever life throws you a conundrum, always know that you can and will find the answer. You just have to give yourself the time to figure it out. If you believe there is nothing in life that you can’t handle, you’ll handle whatever life throws at you. And Maeve McGrath [who played Lorraine Molloy in Fair City] made me get a pension when I was 20.

And the worst?

Try kale in your salad. If carpet underlay tasted like something, I think it would be kale.


Is there a moment that changed your life?

Becoming a mum to Clarabelle Murphy at 22 was the best thing that will ever happen to me. Everything else is a bonus.

Who do you admire most?

See above! Clarabelle is a true artist. She’ll read the whole play first. I’ll read my own bits. My mother says it best about Clarabelle: she’s the kind of girl that you wish was your best friend. She’s smart, articulate, incredibly passionate, and is the kindest person I know.

What practical things do you do to help your personal development?

Eat, sleep, exercise and read.

What is your worst habit?

When I’m watching the telly, I constantly flick from one programme to another. I haven’t watched a full live broadcast programme in years. Thank Sky for series link and the rewind button.

What are you most proud of in your life?

Clarabelle Murphy. If you met her you’d know why. She is literally the person I wanted to be when I grew up. Whoever gets her as a best friend is one lucky human. I’ve also mastered the art of poaching eggs. I’m ridiculously proud of that.

What is your motto for life?

Get out of your own way. And it’s not how you fall, it’s how you pick yourself back up. And don’t eat kale, use it as underlay.