Martin “Jim” McFadden.
By Irish Echo Staff
“Matt Talbot will you please pray for me. I am a broken man.” So says Martin “Jim” McFadden on a video featured on his website. It’s from his poem referencing the Dublin working man and religious ascetic who’s been an inspiration for recovering alcoholics for almost 100 years.
Battling addiction alone is impossible, his admirers say; prayer is necessary, too. That’s why they look to Talbot, who “took the pledge” and stayed off alcohol for the more than 40 years until his death.
“Today prayer is often overlooked in favor of more scientific approaches, yet it saved my life,” writes McFadden, who has a special devotion to St. Anthony.
Without prayer, believes the author of the memoir “Don’t Go There,” he’d be in the grave and his family would be praying for his soul.
McFadden often begins his story with the car accident that left him fighting for his life in 1986 at the age of 23. He was to spend three months in a hospital bed. The financial settlement arising from the accident gave him the means to go on a “continuous bender” in his native Ireland, the UK and America. Like any wild ride the story has its moments of hilarity; but all of the devastating consequences of the tale are revealed as well, not least the emotional heartbreak.
McFadden writes, “I was haunted by demons, demons that would not let me rest. I couldn’t settle in a job, a relationship, or even a place. I was on the run and fueling my paranoia with alcohol.”
The Donegal native added, “I would walk away from someone I loved in favor of a drink.”
In time, McFadden hit rock bottom and would, like Matt Talbot did before him in the 1880s, take the pledge. “Don’t Go There” is the story of how that happened, how he found peace of mind and heart, a happy marriage and full-time employment.
The author pursued other interests, too, like tracking down long-lost relatives, and meeting interesting people along the way.
“This took me on a journey to Buffalo, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles and several cities throughout the UK,” he recalls. “It was during my visit to Los Angeles that I had the pleasure of meeting and befriending Jimmy and Anne Murphy [from Kilkenny and Mullingar],” he said about the family that owned Jimmy’s of Beverly Hills, a famous haunt of film stars and other celebrities.
McFadden has also self-published a book about his great-granduncle Canon James McFadden, aka the Patriot Priest of Gweedore. “When our local Cathedral in Letterkenny was being built, the Bishop sent Canon James McFadden to America on a fundraising mission,” the author says. “The Canon travelled to every state in America and was so well received that his Bishop sent him back for a second time.”
The Canon was parish priest from 1875 until 1901. During the early years of his tenure he was to the forefront of the Land League locally and a significant contributor to community development. “He also came to national prominence in 1899,” says his nephew, “when he was arrested and tried for the murder of R.I.C. District Inspector William Martin.”
For more information about the books, go to martinjimmcfadden.com or visit Amazon.