Is there a more famous Home and Away character than Irene?
Irene, played by Lynne McGranger, has been a regular on the Logie Award-winning TV WEEK show since 1993.
We’ve watched the beloved larrikin grow from a chain-smoking, pixie-cut rocking blonde to a caring and feisty lady with an open door for those in need throughout the years.
We’re looking back at 28 years of Irene’s most dramatic events, from terrible relationships to family tragedies.
Fighting with Pippa (1992):
Irene, who was then played by Jacqui Phillips, pretended that her children Damian (Matt Doran) and Finlay (Tina Thomsen) had assaulted her in order to blackmail them into leaving with her. Irene had a huge slanging match with Pippa (Debra Lawrance), who turned ferocious to defend her two foster children.
Coming back (1993):
Lynne McGranger made her first appearance as Irene when she returned to town after a diving accident, worried about Finlay. She’d calmed down, but she was still a chimney. She was grateful to everyone who helped her, including Pippa. “I’m not used to people showing up all nice!”
Giving birth (1997):
Finlay’s mother, Irene, was a surrogate mother. She was unconcerned with the fact that she was feeling contractions until her car became caught in traffic on the way to the hospital. Thankfully, she arrived at the hospital in time and gave birth to a child named Paul. Paul was unfortunately taken not long after his birth.
Being stalked (2000):
Irene’s relationship with Ken (Anthony Phelan) appeared to be on track until Ken’s ex-wife Eve (Robyn Gibbes) was released from a mental institution. She poisoned Irene, then confronted her in her house with a cricket bat in a creepy scene. Thankfully, Eve’s son Nick (Chris Egan) stepped in to help Irene, arguing, “Irene’s a nice person, Mum.”
Seeing the future (2000):
Irene had a nightmare that she was being called by her fiance Ken. She dashed through the bush, right up to the edge of a cliff, and then gasped in horror. It was a foreshadowing that Ken would die, which he sadly did. Just before he and Irene were to marry, he was hit by a car.
Losing her mind (2005):
Irene was a little taken aback when she returned home and discovered Chloe (Kristy Wright) there, especially because Chloe had been deceased for quite some time. Irene was later diagnosed with psychosis while in the hospital. The truth was that Corey (Adam Saunders), the cop who shared her house with her, was poisoning her.
Dating a killer (2006):
For Irene, it was a love affair that ended in heartbreak. She found Barry (Ivar Kants) was a double killer after dating him. He showed up at her house to tell her how much he cared for her. “How dare you come into my house and act as though you care!” she screamed angrily. She sobbed into his chest after that.
Shooting a cop (2009):
Irene and her lover Lou (David Roberts) embarked on a boat trip that went tragically wrong. When Lou vanished, Irene became afraid and began drinking, inadvertently shooting an officer. Irene (Luke Jacobz) became a suspect in Lou’s disappearance when Angelo (Luke Jacobz) planned to accuse her with the shooting. Of course, she was completely blameless.
Diner fire (2010):
After the diner was vandalised during the racial riots, Irene was upset. In the aftermath, her business partner Leah (Ada Nicodemou) suffered, retreating from society and suffering from agoraphobia.
Breast cancer (2011):
Irene was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in her breast. “This is the most difficult thing she’s ever had to deal with,” Lynne told TV WEEK at the time.
Bombing victim (2013):
Irene’s life was on the line in a cliffhanger finish to 2013. Irene graciously brought in coffee and snacks for Bianca (Lisa Gormley) and Heath (Dan Ewing) after they rushed Ricky (Bonnie Sveen) to the hospital. Irene was about to leave when the explosive set by Jade (Tasma Walton) in Bianca’s laptop bag burst. Irene was flung into a wall but managed to escape.
Dating disaster (2015):
Irene hasn’t had much luck with guys. She just put her toe back into the dating water, going out with Greg Snelgrove, the school principal (Paul Gleeson). But it turns out that the fishtank-obsessed Greg wasn’t quite her dream partner. Irene, there are plenty of fish in the sea!
Attacking Tommy (2019):
Bella was battling off her crazed internet assailant Tommy when the previous foster mother returned home. Irene grabbed Bella and hit him over the head with a vase in a panic.
Irene’s violent retaliation was sparked by her previous sexual assault experience, and she became overcome with sadness and shame. Lynne stated at the time, “She tussles with it for a bit, but finally says no, they have to speak the truth.”