Sunday, July 10, 2011

Matt Talbot Sunday (2011)

by V. Rev. Eoin McCrystal, P.P.

Holy Trinity Parish


Welcome everyone, as we gather to celebrate Matt Talbot Sunday. The Sunday after Corpus Christi Sunday is always reserved for The Venerable Matt Talbot. I am conscious that a younger generation might not know too much about Matt Talbot and so I hope to share a little insight to his life.

Matt was born on the 2nd May 1856 at Aldborough Court in the city centre. He was the second of 12 children of which only 9 survived. He was baptised 3 days after his birth in the Pro Cathedral Dublin. His early school life was not a success; one report describes him as a “mitcher”. He got a job at around 12 years of age as a messenger boy for E & J Burke Ltd Wine Merchants, who bottled stout and ale and so began his drinking life. He was usually to be found in O’Meara’s Pub on the North Strand (now Cusack’s) and he received his pay in there every Saturday morning. He reached a low point when he stole a fiddle from a blind man in order to buy drink. When he became unemployed his “friends” in O’Meara’s ignored him and he decided to take the pledge. He went up to Clonliffe College and took a three month pledge and experienced the most difficult months of his life. Where can he go in order to avoid the pub! He takes refuge in the churches of the city, beginning his day with 5.30am Mass in Gardiner St. and joins the Men’s Sodalities in Gardiner St. and Merchants Quay. His father died in 1899 and he and his mother moved a number of times around the city after that. In 1909 he was working permanently for T & C Martin and was a member of the ITGWU. He went out on strike with the union in 1913 under Jim Larkin. His mother dies in 1915. The President of Clonliffe College becomes his anam-chara (soul friend, spiritual director) for the next 25 years. He took no part in the 1916 Rising but kept notes on the men shot and prayed for them. He has bouts of stays in the Mater Hospital in 1923 for heart and kidney problems. In 1925 on the 7th June he collapsed and died in the street on Granby Lane. In 1937 the Papal Decree introduced his cause and he was declared Venerable on the 3rd October 1975.

People who suffer with addiction to drink or drugs invoke his intercession as do families with an addict living among them. Matt understands the pain that is suffered by both. Today let us remember Matt and pray for those afflicted by addiction.