The late Brian McGuinness
Closing time came far too early for Brian McGuinness who checked out suddenly on November 17 at the age of 59.
Born and reared in the “Purt”, Ballyshannon, Brian was a much respected painter by profession who will be sorely missed by so many of his regular clients who will now be on the search for a replacement, a very hard act to follow. He was a master craftsman.
He learned his trade with McCosker’s before moving to Dodo Hannigan Painters with whom he spent many busy and successful years where he formed an enduring relationship with Dodo himself.
He later set up in business with his younger brother Aogán and when Aogán married and moved to New Zealand, Brian continued, mainly on his own, but also in partnership with Gerry O’ Neill, another close friend of long standing. In between he had a stint in his own shop ‘Fab Décor’ in partnership with his great neighbour Josie Mc Gee, where he supplied paints, paper etc., and built up a successful business which was later taken over by Martin and Donna Kelly.
Brian’s father Hugh died in 1977 a young man and his mother Mary, originally from Boyle, County Roscommon, was left to raise a young family on her own. Brian often talked about those times when his father was alive and the family went on Sunday outings to Bundoran where the highlight was the visit to Brennan’s Bar for a liquid treat.
Brian’s commitment to neatness and order were evident in the way his home, his car and himself and his family were always so well presented. He was always a snazzy dresser.
Brian moved back to his roots and to his family home house on the Purt where he lived with his mother until her death in 2008. He did a major rejigging of the house in the Purt in recent years and he and his partner Teresa were so proud of their home. More recently they had undertaken a restoration project on a small town house and were looking forward to its completion and its new lease of life. As in everything he did, he was totally focussed on every detail of the house projects and the finished product reflect this.
Allied to his commitment to his painting Brian had many other interests. A great lover of music, he was an avid follower of the big ballad. Among his favourites were Bryan Adams, Neil Young and Bob Seger. Whenever he worked his constant companions were his music and his beloved dog Barney. When not working he was hard to contact as ever-present in his ears were his top of the range earphones which delivered his listening pleasure. You could see him with a smile on his face savouring the sound anywhere.
Cars and motorbikes
His other loves were first his cars and later his motorbikes. He was meticulous in the care he took of both and he loved nothing better than to polish up the bike and go out for a spin with Tess. He had recently upgraded his bike and looked forward to touring with it.
Another passion of Brian’s was following Donegal. With a travelling party consisting at various times of Gerry O’ Neill, Anthony (Na) Sheerin, Dara Daly, Mark Gallagher, Billy Grimes and myself, we journeyed the four corners of the country in support of the team culminating in the 1992 All-Ireland glory, the train to Cork for the rain cancelled game and a famous trip to Tralee where we ended up at a local wedding in the Earl of Desmond Hotel.
One vignette comes to mind. We were travelling to Belfast to a first round championship game with Antrim. I was driving so had charge of the choice of music and I had on a Leonard Cohen CD, much to Brian’s disgust. Halfway up the shore road to Enniskillen he pleaded for a change of music saying he couldn’t listen to ‘Charles Mitchell’ any more but his requests were denied. He insisted that he wanted to get out of the car and go home and by the time we reached Fivemiletown he wanted to have a pit stop. He then refused to get back into the car unless I changed the music and started to walk towards home. No amount of persuasion worked to get him back into the car until he realised he had no money and no cigarettes so he got back in. The journey to Belfast was quiet after that and Donegal won.
Brian was a very intelligent and bright man. He was the master of the quick one-liners and was never stuck for a quick riposte. If you asked him a yes or no question he had the ability to nod his head and say no (or shake his head and say yes) at the same time. That’s not easy to do (you should try it) but he had it to perfection.
He was a dab hand at spoonerisms and malapropisms though he wouldn’t call them that. A famous one was the “ski jetty” rides on Assaroe lake instead of “Jet ski” rides. A divilish gleam in his eye at all times, he was full of fun and great company.
And, he had his serious side too, which was best exemplified in his approach to his work. If he couldn’t do a job right he wouldn’t do it. He scoured the countryside to get just the right piece of furniture or material to fit into a project he had on hand. Many’s a time we’d meet on a Sunday morning to go to a match and he’d already have been to the market in Nutt’s Corner to pick up something he needed. Distance was no object as he loved his car and driving.
His was a life well lived, and he should have had a lot more living to do but sadly this was not to be.
Covid was an unwelcome visitor at Brian’s wake and funeral. His brothers Aogán and Paul and their families were denied the opportunity to say farewell in the Irish way to Brian. This added to the poignancy of the funeral especially as modern technology facilitated at least some long distance participation by Aogán and Paul in the proceedings.
The funeral service, conducted by Canon Munster was streamed online and provided an opportunity for many others who could not attend in person to participate in the sad occasion and pay their final respects to Brian.
The removal to the Church in Bundoran saw a wide ranging cross section of Brian’s family, friends, neighbours and business connections, appropriately distanced, paying their silent respects to the departing Brian. Led by a column of motor cyclist friends, the cortege made its way to Bundoran for a funeral service attended by the specified 25 close family and friends. Burial then took place in the cemetery at St. Joseph’s Church on the Rock. Brian was laid to rest with his departed father and mother Hughie and Mary to the strains of one of his favourite songs, The Famous Final Scene by Bob Seger, which was so moving for the distanced assembled mourners.
Brian is survived by his sons Bryan and Hugh, their mother Margaret, his partner Teresa, his brothers Aiden, Thomas, Paul and Aogán, sisters in law Sharon, Mary, Helen and Vickie, nephews and nieces and extended family members.
He will be fondly remembered by so many friends and neighbours and work colleagues and the memory of his wit, friendship and smile will do justice to a Dulux colour card and brighten many a dull day.
- Anthony Travers
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