Joe Brolly donated kidney to `atone for taking of human life by people close to me'
GAA pundit Joe Brolly has told how he donated a kidney to a stranger in 2012 to “atone for the taking of human life by people close to me”.
The All-Ireland winning footballer described how he experienced “exhilaration” about giving a kidney to Shane Finnegan but afterwards “hit the wall”.
The barrister and charity campaigner speaks about the experience during the first part of Sports Stories: Joe Brolly, to air on Virgin Media One at 10pm tomorrow.
Speaking about his removal from The Sunday Game panel on RTÉ in 2019, Mr Brolly said it was “very disappointing”.
“I think it was a sense of ‘this is only going one way’. It was very disappointing to me, and very hurtful to me as well. I was shocked.”
He also refers to mistakes he has made in his career – including once describing Cavan football as being “as ugly as Marty Morrissey”.
“I made a very hurtful comment about (RTÉ sports presenter) Marty Morrissey once, which I’ve always regretted,” he said.
“I went to Marty personally, and apologised for it. That was a very good learning lesson for me.
“I’d just given the kidney and, all of a sudden, I was a national saint. I think around that time I started to get a bit carried away with myself, even though I was thinking ‘Don’t get carried away with yourself’.”
Speaking about growing up in Dungiven, Co Derry during the Troubles, Mr Brolly said it was clear that his father Francie, a future Sinn Féin MLA, was “a person of interest to the state.”
“Our house would have been raided... turfed out of bed. There was a veil of secrecy around things.
“Whatever my father was involved in, he was involved in. It was clear he was looked up to as a leader.
“I remember a very young Martin McGuinness in our house and my mother putting a false moustache and beard on him.
“People like my father and Martin who would never ever have been involved in violence but some people, a lot of people that I know... whenever this happened, they discovered that they had a capacity for violence.”
Mr Brolly said it was “always a source of fascination” that he “gave a kidney to a stranger so excitedly”.
“It was exhilaration, waves of euphoria that this was going to happen,” he said.
“And afterwards I felt ecstatic and then hit the wall shortly after that.
“And then for the first time in my life I really engaged with who I was. And I realised that the reason I gave the kidney was to sort of to atone for the taking of human life by people close to me.”