Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O'Carroll makes annual festive appeal: 'SVP saved our Christmases'
Brendan O'Carroll's vivid memories of his late mother's struggle to provide Christmas presents for her family have inspired his seasonal generosity.
The Mrs Brown's Boys star donates hundreds of thousands of euro every Christmas to the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) in Dublin.
And the 59-year-old said it's his recollections of the same charity calling to his mother Maureen O'Carroll's house to help her that taught him the true meaning of Christmas.
"She didn't always manage it. Sometimes Christmas was about getting a vest or just a tangerine," he said. "The look of disappointment on my mother's face was worse than realising my present was just a satsuma.
"We'd have had no Christmas if it wasn't for the St Vincent de Paul. Two of their men used to come to the house every Friday. Sometimes they paid our electricity bill, or they would pay for the coal. We'd get a box of chocolates on the odd occasion.
"My mother used to tell me they were my Uncle Vincent and Uncle Paul. I grew up thinking these two fellas really were my uncles. But the result is that I know how much good these charities do and how passionate they are about their work."
The Finglas-born comedian, whose character Agnes Brown returns to TV over the festive season with two Christmas specials of Mrs Brown's Boys, also admitted that watching families separated through emigration reuniting at Dublin airport is his favourite thing to do at this time of year.
"By the time I was 10, a lot of my brothers and sisters had emigrated," he told TV Times magazine. In those days, most Irish women had to leave to find work. And that's what happened with me - my sister Fiona, for example, went to Canada. I spent days waiting to meet them at Dublin Airport.
"To this day, my favourite place to be is the arrivals lounge at the airport. In fact, I still sometimes go there at Christmas time to witness the joy of people reuniting as they emerge from behind those sliding doors, arms outstretched, and embrace family or friends they've missed and who missed them. And yes, I cry as I watch."