This year will mark Andrew McGinley’s second Christmas without his three children by his side.
Conor, nine, Darragh, seven, and Carla, three, were killed in January 2020.
As he reflected on the wonderful Christmases he had shared with his children, Andrew insisted he only feels love when he thinks of them.
While Christmas can be a difficult time after losing his children, Andrew also feels a lot of love on this day.
The Christmas tree is filled with Conor, Darragh and Carla’s homemade decorations and when Andrew looks at it he says Extra.ie: ‘It’s sad but it fills me with love.’
He said he visited Clanna Gael Fontenoy’s Under-8 team while they wore their new As Darragh Did shirts, the charity Andrew set up as one of his projects inheritance to honor his children.
“I was in tears – people automatically think they’re tears of sadness but they’re tears of love,” Andrew said, his voice cracking as he admitted that even in our conversation he could feel his eyes look up.
“It’s just this overwhelming love that overwhelms you and fuels your emotions,” he explained as he sat outside a flower shop to pick up fresh bouquets for Conor, Darragh and Carla’s grave. .
Andrew continued: “It’s made with love. Sometimes this love gives you the same feeling of joy and happiness, but I can’t call it joy and happiness, it’s just pure love for children.
‘So when I look at the Christmas tree… We all loved Christmas. Yes, I’m devastated to be without them but I’m still full of love at the same time.’
Andrew admitted he loved Christmas and had lots of fond memories, but it’s hard not to have Conor, Darragh and Carla with him.
“One of the hardest things I have to do again this year is standing at their grave on Christmas morning,” he said.
“The only thing that keeps me going is that they wouldn’t want me to be sad.”
He echoed the words Fiona Donohoe, the mother of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe tragically died in June 2020.
“She talked about how it hits you first thing in the morning that you’re not going to see your child that day and you’re not going to be able to hold him,” Andrew explained.
“Every morning when my alarm goes off it’s like getting hit with a hammer and then you start your day.
“But you gotta have your day, the kids wouldn’t want me to be sad. I want to do these projects to keep their memories alive because I don’t like the alternative.
‘What’s the alternative? I have to do what I do.