Eddie Linden and Patricia Herron
Published: 17 November, 2016
It was 2am when Father Houlihan heard a frantic banging on the door of his Fortess Road vicarage, so the priest stumbled down stairs in his night gown to open it.
Before him stood the acclaimed Irish poet Madge Herron who had a special favour to ask.
“One of her pet dogs had died, and she wanted him to say a special night time mass for it, there and then”, recalled the poet Eddie Linden.
“She and the Father were good friends – they would get together to speak Irish.”
Eddie was one of many who came to the launch of a new biography of Madge’s extraordinary life at the London Irish Centre in Camden Square on Tuesday.
Madge lived for many years in Kentish Town, and at the reading of her work and discussion of her biography by her niece Patricia Herron, stories of her creative – and somewhat eccentric – approach to life were shared while a trio played traditional Irish music.
Eddie added: “She loved her dogs. She went to Westminster Cathedral for two weeks after one died and had a mass sais for it every day.”
Another relative, Joan Gibson, recalled a story about Madge and the time she heard a tapping on her door. “Madge had a sister,” she said, “who was the eldest and had gone to America, and in those days the oldest would go and work to save money for the next sibling to come over.
“But this sister became a nun, so she never made any money.
“One day, Madge got this knock on the door and a nun was there – so she firmly said she did not give money to nuns. The thing was, it was her sister on an unexpected visit from the USA and she hadn’t recognised her.”