Matt`s Early Life
On the first Friday of
May 1856 as the people of Dublin gathered to
watch the Peace Proclamation parade celebrating
the end of the Crimean War, Charlie Talbot's
wife Elizabeth Bagnall had more pressing
concerns of a personal nature just then. On that
day 2nd May 1856, her son, the child she would
call Matthew, was born in the parish of St.
Agatha at 13, Aldborough Court.
Matt was the second eldest of twelve children two boys twins Charles and Edward died in infancy and that left ten children eight boys and two girls. The family should of been relatively well off but because Charlie drank very heavily they were always poor moving from one tenement to another.
Three days after he was born Matt was baptised in Dublin's Pro Cathedral by Fr. James Mulligan a young priest of twenty nine. It's a reflection on the prevailing conditions of the city at that time that within eight weeks Fr. Mulligan was dead. He died of a fever which he contracted while caring for the poor people of the parish. Matt came home to be one of the poor children of the city. Life was very difficult for the Talbot family, living in cramp and squalid conditions with no proper sanitation or running water.
Matt did not begin
school until he was eleven and like many
children of the time the main reason why he went
to school at all was so that he could be
prepared for the sacraments of First Communion
and Confirmation. He went to O'Connell's primary
School opened by and named after Daniel
O'Connell the Catholic emancipator. But Matt did
not attend much school as the family were poor
because of the father's drinking, Matt's mother
had to work as a charwoman to earn some extra
money meanwhile Matt had to stay at home to look
after his younger brothers and sisters. His
teacher Br. Ryan sums up his time in O'Connell's
by writing in the remarks column of the class
roll book "a mitcher" or truant.
When Matt left school at the age of twelve he could hardly read or write. Matt's first job was with a bottling company called E&J Burke in Bachelors Walk. Bearing in mind that his father Charlie had a drink problem it really was a most unsuitable job. Matt delivered the bottles of stout and beer to the pubs around Dublin and like many of the other boys who worked there he decided to experiment and began drinking, by the time he was fourteen he was drinking regularly. When his father discovered he was drinking he gave him a beating but of course this had no effect so he decided to get him a job working beside him in the bonded warehouse of the Customs House where he could keep an eye on him, but this proved to be an even greater disaster because now instead of delivering stout and porter to pubs Matt was delivering whiskey.