The price of acquiring innocence is to accept its inevitable demise.
The end of the beginning of the Charlton era coincided with an accidental appointment and the beginning of its end would be shrouded in the tragedy of the Lansdowne Riots.
It was an international managerial career virtually bookended by the glorious liberation of major tournament success against his native England, and the surly abandonment of the riot-stricken Dublin visit of the same country in 1995.
Only seven years separated those two occasions; one, a blissfully virginal adventure in the potential of the impossible; the other, a violent reminder of the grimmest of realities.
In the confused week in which Charlton was appointed in February of 1986, an off-duty RUC officer and a Catholic civilian were gunned down in the Talk of the Town bar in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh.
On the weekend his death was announced, police officers in north Belfast confronted petrol bombs and stones, missiles familiar to those who have grown up with civil war on this island.
Northern Ireland remains a dysfunctional, politically inert state and the south's relationship with it remains mired in complexity, even if no longer, thankfully, enmeshed in a perpetual cycle of death and destruction - although the recent death of the IRA leader offered a timely reminder that the past remains present.
Of all the preposterous myths about the Charlton era - from launching the Celtic Tiger economy to kick-starting a cultural revolution - his apparent role as a quasi-peacemaker is perhaps the most inaccurate.
That is not to deny any impact he had upon Ireland and its people; in fact, to ascribe impossibly weighty influences to him undermines what he did do for Ireland and its people.
And not forgetting some of these people lived in England.
A few would end up playing for the land their parents, and their parents' parents, had left years before.
So many other emigrants would simply wallow in the reflected glories, so proud to declare their Irishness with a fluttering flag from a suburban window in Little England or inner city London, a symbolic gesture that, once, they may have shied away from.
Charlton made many people in England remember where they came from; in a Republic of Ireland riven by divisions of class and religion, he made many people forget where they came from.
Liam Brady may have become an infamous - and not the only - casualty of the often crude Charlton philosophy. But the first person who sought to deny Brady the expression of his footballing gifts had been the head brother of St Aidan's CBS who threatened to expel the 15-year-old for choosing to captain his country's soccer team instead of playing in a GAA challenge match.
(As an aside, this writer was threatened with expulsion for having the temerity to suggest starting a soccer team in a fee-paying, rugby school; now, mercifully, they boast soccer and, indeed, GAA!)
What we can helpfully credit the Charlton era with is the slow eradication of the once-poisonous atmosphere that divided the Gael from the "football man"; or, at least, afforded the relationship some sense of kinship, even if some retained a deep distrust of the other.
The men and women from the steadfastly conservative and rural GAA homes who were historically inclined to turn away from the urban Dublin football establishment should have been even more repelled by the prospect of an Englishman's arrival.
After all, Brady's school, like so many others, instructed its pupils in a history of bloodshed, the unashamedly gory tale of defiance of the downtrodden underdog against the dominant enemy of empire, troubles and tales, told and retold.
His arrival in the job prompted the banner, "Go Home Union Jack." He was also pilloried in his own land. Maybe he was his own island.
But perhaps because of his own strident strain of anti-establishment sentiment, so many took to Charlton; after all, the pit mines of Ashington that he refused to enter were as far removed from 'that' London as the small farm holdings near his beloved River Moy in Ballina.
It was not that he was more Irish than the Irish themselves or any of that folksy nonsense - the English coined the term 'honorary Irishman', not the Irish - but he did seem less English than so many of his countrymen.
The enduring irony throughout the last century was that England had provided a home for so many that Ireland could not house.
Just as the GAA mourned its steadily departing diaspora, never to return, Charlton helped Ireland to mine it; Steve McMahon and Brian Kilcline may have spurned Irish advances before he arrived but few rejected the invitations thereafter. The Englishman anointed by Ireland would plunder his United Kingdom for the sons of long-departed Irish families who would go on to contribute to the team's most celebrated days.
And so while he might indeed have done quite a lot to unite the people of Ireland thanks to the flinty character which moulded a team in his nature, he did actually unite the country of Ireland.
Charlton's roots are well-known but while others might have made an issue of them, he never did. As the civil war raged - who can forget Greysteel? - he never interfered with politics so politics interfered with him.
He had won a World Cup in front of English fans as a player but was booed as a manager in the same stadium.
A player distinguished enough to win a World Cup for his country but not so illustrious a manager that he would be rejected by the FA, Charlton's passport said England but his mindset screamed 'Geordie'.
He wasn't the best footballer in his own family, never mind his street, and spent his life espousing this trait, that he was better at stopping others playing, rather than playing himself.
It became so familiar that it became a dogma and no autocrat could have delivered with it with as much authority.
That he could deliver such a message in Ireland, veneered by genial charm, seemed quite remarkable when not just the FAI, but Irish society itself, dismissed not only influences from the outside who threatened new ideas, but also banished those from within.
A closeted society that harboured vicious sex abusers in civilian and priests' clothing, that secreted political corruption, that promulgated an insidious loyalty to terrorist fascists, was immune from disruptive voices.
Especially English ones.
But Charlton seemed different to so many voices of authority who had lorded it over the country with their English accents. And their Irish ones.
His devotion to honesty and hard work, a natural ability to be straight talking rather than indulging in side-of-the-mouth nodding and winking cute hoorism, ensured that it wasn't just his tall frame that made him stand out.
Charlton's disgust at his own country's hubris found a natural home in Ireland where he perceived a people who seemed thankful for even the smallest of mercies.
It was not Charlton's fault that this attitude continued to persist long after he had created the conditions for it not to. This humility was precisely the reason England would never appoint him as their manager. They thought they deserved better.
"If you want to know about the relationship with people, Irish people are realistic and so am I," he said. "We don't fool each ourselves or each other."
As a manager, Charlton's approach was backboned by his two idols, Don Revie and Alf Ramsey, neither of whom suffered fools either. Attention to detail and picking the right players in specific roles were key to their success.
The calamitous cock-up that ushered Charlton into the Irish job ahead of Bob Paisley and John Giles is well told; the FA's Bert Millichip would tell Des Casey of the FAI that he had made the biggest mistake of his life.
Casey bided his time and finally responded to Millichip when the sides met at Wembley, in 1991, when Ireland outplayed England in a 1-1 draw.
"Not a bad mistake, was it?"
The former would sweep away the vestiges of native Irish football tongue - from Liam Tuohy to Brian Kerr and beyond - condemning the self-styled 'football men' to exile in their own land, while the latter policy would discriminate against Brady, David O'Leary, Ronnie Whelan and others, mostly natives, too.
After meeting his predecessor, Eoin Hand, Charlton found out how much he was getting paid - a mere £17,500 - and made sure he bargained for a much healthier salary. And he also made sure not to ring the FAI at certain times in case he might have to speak with any of his employers.
The opening gambit at his introductory press conference, to browbeat a dissident inquiry from a journalist, would negotiate him relatively safe passage from the media until the national obsession rendered the matter utterly redundant.
That he had invited Kerr and Noel O'Reilly to manage the U-21s was just one thing ignored when historical revisionists sought to blame Charlton for a football culture's cancerous ills. The blame always lay elsewhere.
There is a narrative that charges Charlton with complicity in the decline of the domestic game, the absence of a national stadium and a myriad of FAI scandals, this is another rewriting of history which is wrong.
Jack may have been gone fishing but the state of Irish soccer in 2020 is not his fault. It is all our faults.
When success followed, and the population slowly stirred, none of this mattered. Charlton's famous 'giraffe' neck, atop an angular frame, would remain stubbornly above it all, not in a haughty fashion, but in a way that smacked of the authority figures of his playing days. "We've got a game to win," said the song. That was his job and he did it so well. He was not responsible for anything else.
He could not have survived in today's game, or today's world, from the man-management methods to the unintentional racism, the fraternal pints or the unannounced fishing excursions, but that is the point.
But such innocence fed all our innocence. It was a once-off adventure that could never be repeated. There can never be a second 'first time'.
Through it all, Charlton may have seemed utterly immersed in the story, and indeed he was, but he was also singularly detached from it, too.
Even when he looked forward to the big days, in Germany or Italy or the US, it seemed he was looking forward to the small days, on a weir somewhere in remote Ireland or northern England, almost as much.
He knew he was only passing through all our lives. Making us happy made him happy, But none of it could ever last. Nothing ever does.
It was how he left the job, pointing an accusing finger at a table of numb FAI officials demanding that they tell him whether or not they wanted him to go.
Even in 1987, with poor crowds and unattractive football dogging their 'accidental' manager, there were tentative talks about considering a management change. It would have been quite the feat had they, having accidentally assumed ownership of the most successful manager in their history, then decided to dismiss him less than two years into the job.
In the end, the traits that made him successful were the very characteristics that led to his final failure.
It would be fitting that, in 2015, when England reprised their aborted visit 20 years earlier, Charlton too would return and, teary-eyed, drink in the genuine warmth of the crowd.
It was a deserved coda before an audience featuring many who would not have been born when he managed the country, let alone alive to see their greatest triumphs.
That day summed up the Charlton era. His death marks not just a farewell to a lost age but the end of innocence too. He left some mark.
For a legacy is not just leaving something behind for the people. It's leaving something in the people.
PS: An anecdote, donated with kind permission from my former colleague in the 'Daily Telegraph' Christopher Davies, who covered the Charlton era with Ireland.
"As he gave his team talk before the game against Italy in 1990, Pavarotti was "warming up" along the corridor. Jack opened the door and shouted: "Shut the fook up." Andy Townsend said: "Boss ... you can't say that - it's Pavarotti."
"Never fooking heard of the c**t..."
International Soccer Premium
Jack Charlton's incredible achievements as a player and manager have been well documented these past 48 hours. But the record books don't tell the story of the man behind those feats, from World Cup winner, Leeds United stalwart, club manager and ultimately Republic of Ireland legend.