The Road to Recovery
Matt walked from Newcomen Avenue where the Talbots lived to Holy Cross College the Dublin Diocesan Seminary, where he met a kindly priest who heard his confession and gave him the pledge. Matt made the short walk back home unsure of whether he'd be able to keep the pledge for three months. Poor Matt what was he to do with no support, no medical or counselling service, no community help and no AA movement. The only support he had was the grace of God. Matt would come to realise that he was not alone in his addiction. But his struggle had only begun.
Wrapped with anguish and fear and after a terrifyingly sleepless night Matt left for 5.00a.m. Mass in St. Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street and for the first time in many years received Holy Communion. Thus began a pattern of daily Mass and reception of Holy Communion which continued for the rest of his life. Those first three months were the hardest. Matt recounts how on one day he tried to receive communion but he found himself stuck to the floor he couldn't move and a voice telling him. 'It's no use, you'll never stop drinking.' He went to another church same thing and another, until finally he fell to his knees on the steps of the Pro-Cathedral and prayed with arms outstretched 'Jesus mercy, Mary help, Jesus mercy, Mary help', and they did, they heard his cry.
On another occasion he was tempted to go into a pub for a drink but he was unknown in this place it was also very busy and the barman ignored him. Matt quickly came to his senses left the pub and hurried to the nearest Church where he spent the rest of the day. From that moment on he made a promise never to carry money again.
His family and friends could not believe the change in Matt and his former drinking companions marvelled at his sobriety. Matt had a nickname – Barney. 'Barney is a changed man,' the men who knew him told one another.
But they had no idea of how completely Matt had changed. Outwardly he retained the same appearance, the same Talbot traits: he was the same undersized, wiry man, with his father's pugnacity and his mother's capacity for hard, sustained work. He was still a builder's labourer, a casual worker fetching and carrying for the skilled tradesmen. But in one sense he had found permanent employment. He had been taken on by the Master – Builder to clear the site of his own soul for a dwelling not made with hands, a temple for the living God.