by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM USA 31.08.2023
Matt Talbot was always highly revered by me because he had worked for T&C Martin lumbar company in Dublin which was owned at one time by Mother Mary’s father. I marvelled how he had changed from being an alcoholic to being a sincere penitential follower and lover of Jesus. In fact, the story is told that Mother Mary went around the workers who were building the new training hospital in the early fifties showing them his picture. She had hoped this would incite them to work more diligently. He gave men a lot of inspiration as I was later to find out with a personal family story.
As I told you in previous blogs, we Sister medical students were not allowed to study the day before exams. So, on that illustrious day in May 1960, the three of us chose to go to Dublin to do a sort of pilgrimage, to find out more about Matt Talbot. We started at St Savior’s Church, which was his home parish, and saw the marked place outside on Granby Lane, where he had collapsed and died. We felt we were on holy ground. A chain was found tied around his abdomen which he wore in reparation. Then, by chance, we stumbled upon his birthplace which showed a sign in a window that he had been born in that premise. It has since been torn town and replaced with another building. We also travelled to a few more sites but the inspiration of his life followed us into the exam halls and, thank God, we all passed our exams.
A few months later, my mother wrote to me that my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Al had both narrow escapes in the hospital. Aunt Lilian delivered a child at 45 years and called him Matthew. My Uncle Al had been diagnosed with cancer and not a trace could be found at the operation. My mother wanted me to write a consoling letter to them both. I really did not know what to say so I proceeded to tell them that the child’s name reminded me of Matt Talbot. I apologized for any unfavourable association and wrote about our pilgrimage in Dublin to the various sites mentioned above, and a little about his life.
I could not believe the reply I got. “Margaret Anne, did you not know that we were both praying to Matt Talbot for Aunt Lillian’s safe delivery and my cancer?” Uncle Al repeatedly asked me that question? Evidently there is a great devotion to Matt Talbot in Connecticut. They have even imported Matt Talbott’s bed. I had no idea of this connection, and they both thought I had been inspired by God to confirm their devotion to Matt Talbot. They had called their child, Matthew, after him.
In 1974, I happened to be in Dublin and decided to go on another pilgrimage in honour of Matt Talbot. I took a camera with me and took pictures and walked from St Saviors Church, across the city to Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sean McDermott Street, where his body is interred in a stone tomb. The founder of AA in Ireland with whom I had been corresponding, Major Sackville O’Conor Malins, came to visit me in our house in Rosemount and I told him what I was doing for my Uncle Al. He kindly gave me a book about the life of Matt Talbot. I later found out that Mother Mary had known Major Malins, as he was a friend of her brother and she had befriended him too. No need to mention that Uncle Al was absolutely thrilled with the book and the pictures I had taken.
All this happened a little less than 50 years ago but just recalling it now has inflamed my heart with a renewed devotion to Matt Talbot, recovering alcoholics, and the power of prayer. Please God, he has encouraged you. too.