Telly favourite Brendan O'Carroll has spoken for the first time about the devastating loss of his sister Fiona - whom he called his 'second mammy'.
Brendan revealed how he cradled her in his arms on her death bed as they both sobbed 'I love you'.
The Mrs Brown's Boys star said he and his wife Jennifer had to rush from their residence in Florida to Fiona's home in Canada during lockdown in a desperate bid to say their last goodbyes.
"My mother had 11 children, of which I am the youngest - my Ma was 46 when she had me," Brendan tells the Sunday World.
"She said I was 'one more time for old time's sake'. Like most big families, in ours the older children reared the younger ones. Everybody should have a stand in-mammy. My sister Fiona was mine. Everybody should have a Fiona."
Fiona (72), who had a twin brother Finbar, was more special to the much-loved actor than most sisters.
"When it came time to visit Santa, Fiona took me," he recollects. "My first trip to the zoo, Fiona took me. My first time to go to the cinema, Fiona took me."
They loved each other so much that Fiona - who moved from Dublin to Peterboro in Canada - named her son Brendan, while the comedian named his daughter Fiona. She plays Maria in the TV show.
"My sister Fiona lived in the middle of nowhere - the first time I visited her after she moved there I thought she was on a witness protection programme," he jokes.
"Every year Peterboro gets snowed in for months, so for the past 15 years Fiona and her wonderful husband Larry would come down here to me and Jenny in Florida from November until the snow melted in March."
Stunning Fiona was picked to represent Toronto when she was younger at the Rose of Tralee pageant but had to pull out when she discovered the final was a week after she was due to get married. Lately she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had not been well for the past year.
"I had seen her going through this before and she always came out the other side smiling," reflects Brendan.
"As we were recording All Round To Mrs Brown's in February I got word from Larry that Fiona was really bad this time."
When recording finished Jenny, who plays Cathy Brown, booked the couple a flight from Florida for April 10 to see her. "On the evening of April 3 Larry called and said he believed Fiona may not make it to the 10th of April," sighs Brendan. "Jenny and I went straight to the airport and got on what's called a red-eye flight.
"We arrived in Toronto at 3am only to find that the car rental didn't open until 6am. We waited, got the car, and after a three-hour drive, mostly through snow, arrived at her house.
"Larry met me in the hallway and cautioned me not to expect too much as she mostly slept. I swear to you, 15 minutes later Fiona was laughing and we even sang These Boots Are Made For Walking together.
"The nurse had some stuff to do with Fiona so we went to the kitchen. When the nurse finished he said she may need to sleep a little. He also told me that for the last few days Fiona kept asking him to just keep her alive until I got there.
"I went back into the room and took her hand. I said I was going to check into the hotel. She answered 'okay'."
It was then that the siblings exchanged the most difficult words they have ever said, as each held the other tightly. "I said 'I love you'. She smiled and answered 'I love you more'. I said 'I love you the most'. She said 'Forever and ever.' Then she died," he cries.
The emotional 64-year-old then closes the heartbreaking flashback as he is unable to speak any more about his devastating grief.
Brendan now spends most of his time at his American home in Orlando - he also owns a house in Dublin and spends several weeks filming his television specials in Glasgow.
"It both amazes me and frightens me the way they are handling the Covid-19 situation here in Florida," he says about the lockdown he is experiencing Stateside.
"Although all the theme parks are closed, unless you watched the news you would have no idea there was anything going on. Our local golf course never closed. Our local shop's only nod to the pandemic is to close at 8.30pm instead of 11pm. Jenny and I wear masks when we go shopping but we are in the minority.
"Having said that, can you blame people not taking it seriously enough when the President suggests 'strong light' or 'injecting bleach' might keep you safe? One great thing is that on ALL the news shows they cite Ireland and the Irish people as leading the way in how to handle lockdown. It makes me very proud."
His youngest son Eric lives near the family home in Orlando, and naturally he misses the rest of his family back home in Ireland.
"I so miss Danny, Fiona and Amanda [his daughter-in-law]," he admits. "And not being able to see our six grandchildren, who are supposed to be out here for the summer, is killing us.
"So Jamie, Felix, Eli, Blake, Isaac and Dexter - if you get to read this we love you and miss you so much. I know there are grandparents all over Ireland who are hurting just as much as we are but take heart. This too will pass.
"I am starting to write Christmas specials for this year and obviously the lockdown and the virus will feature hugely. Hopefully by October when we are due to shoot, things will be better."