Emotional Jim McGuinness recalls deaths of two of his brothers: 'I held his hand and told him I loved him'
Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has spoken about two family tragedies that turned his life upside down and ultimately made him into the successful person he is today.
McGuinness, currently working as part of the Glasgow Celtic backroom team, has seen two of his brothers pass away in tragic circumstances.
On Friday's Late Late Show, McGuinness talked passionately about both brothers - Charles and Mark - and the brotherly bond they shared while they were alive.
Jim was just 12 when he witnessed the death of his older brother Charles, who passed away from a heart defect when he was just 16.
"We heard a shout from his room and ran in to see what was going on. He had a heart condition and there was no trace of it ever before," said McGuinness.
"He was somebody who I felt was really, really cool and someone I looked up to. He was a beautiful looking boy and had a great manner about him, great work ethic, cared a lot about his appearance and worked real hard in the family business. And he was a great footballer and I really looked up to him from that point of view."
Brave McGuinness told of the panic when he heard his brother Charles shout for help on that fateful night back in 1986.
"It was just a shout and from that moment it was just panic to try and see what we could do and get people there to try sort it out," added McGuinness.
"It was a moment in your life when your life is going along in a certain direction and all of a sudden you're jilted and you are gong in a different direction. In many respects it was like a sledge hammer. I was 12 and you are never the same person again.
"All of a sudden you're life just changes and you are weak and you are vulnerable. You try to make sense of it and all I wanted to do was make things right for my mother and father.
"There are people going through this all over Ireland right now. We are trying to make sense of it all and you just can't. You play it around in your mind over and over and over again and there is no answer. You have got to endure it and live through it."
It was a moment, McGuinness admits, that he will never get over but was the catalyst for a change in thinking that would lead him to a successful career in Gaelic Football.
"I used to always sit beside the fire. I remember sitting watching the TV and some of Charles' friends were in which was fantastic for my parents, people calling and keeping his memory alive. That's a really important thing," continued McGuinness.
"And one of them, I think it might have been Eoin McConnell, said it's terrible because he would have been a sure thing for the county minors. I remember just them words and I remember staring at the television and I kept saying 'I am going to do that'.
"From that moment on that is how I started living my life."
McGuinness was true to his word and a career in football soon followed but more tragedy was to come his way in 1998 when a second brother, Mark, passed away following a road accident.
Mark McGuinness was driving Jim to Dublin airport as the latter was due to catch a flight to New York to play for Donegal when their car collided with a truck. Mark was killed instantly.
"I remember thinking the truck was out of control and the car was tossed like a matchbox. I held his hand, stared into his eyes and told him I loved him," said Jim.
"I was the youngest, then Mark and then Charles. When Charles passed away we (him and Mark) became very very tight. He was absolutely fanatical about me, fanatical about football, fanatical about Donegal and Glenties and so we were best friends.
"He looked after me, he sent more money down to college for me, kept me going and did everything he could for me."
Belfast Telegraph Digital