Friday, August 17, 2012

Woman of Many Talents: Mary Maddison

Mary Maddison at home in Eyeries
One of the experiences I will remember from my trip to West Cork is my afternoon visit with Mary Maddison. Most of the poets I was with decided to visit and --- how do I explain this --- have their stones read. 

Actually, I can't explain. Mary Maddison can be described as a storyteller, singer, healer, painter, and village seer. For me, Mary Maddison appeared as a fully realized woman who at 70-something had been out dancing three nights in a row until 2 AM when we met. 

Or more exactly: when we re-met. I had visited her last year and wanted to come again. This is a good place to mention that I am not in the habit of visiting seers. However, what I found with my afternoon visit with Mary is that she affirms the truths that you already know. That's simplifying quite a bit --- but as with interpreting dreams, what is important is what understanding you bring to the experience. How do you see your own life?

In addition to reading stones, Maddison also has entry into other worlds. Relatives  "well stretched"  one may or may not know hover in the atmosphere around us. Perhaps because this all takes place in a tiny village on the coast of Ireland, it seems as natural as breathing to be in touch with the future and the past. 

After the reading, Mary Maddison sat down at the kitchen table with me and my friend Angie. She told us about her regular drumming gig, her miniature horses (Misty and Weather)  and her storytelling evenings on Wednesday nights. She told us about growing up on a tiny island off of Scull and that as a teenager she was sent to England to learn the hotel trade. What she did instead was take to the sea on a merchant marine ship.But that's another story...

From an interview with Mary Maddison:

Mary is not a woman who will ever be idle. She has a constant stream of visitors, coming to have their stones read or to simply listen to her soothing sing-song voice. She sometimes goes out to sea in her boat; she took up sailing on the Isle of Wight as part of a successful ‘life begins at 40’ drive.[xiv] On other days, she sits in a small bay window on the first floor of her house and paints the sea and the Skelligs beyond. She studies art in Kenmare twice a week and regularly contributes to the annual Eyeries Newsletter .[xv] She’s also writing her life history for her grandchildren. And of course she hosts her story-telling sessions on the last Saturday of every month. ‘When I started, it was just me telling tales. Now we have people from all over coming - Germans, Dutch, French, Polish - and telling stories from their native lands. It’s magical really. I have a great life’.[xvii]


  1. I want to be Mary Maddison when I grow up.

  2. Loved this story. My sister and brother and I are taking a trip round the Emerald Isle in honor of my father who passed away last year. I would love to meet and talk to Mary. Does she still have random visitors come into her home? It would be a beautiful breath of Ireland to keep in my heart. Let me know. Thanks.