Hoover Buc Recognition of Madge Irish
By Wayne Wood
Madge England Irish has been a fixture in the Hoover High School Athletic Department for over 18 years. It is for certain that I could accumulate a multitude of stories and tributes from a host of people who have known Madge over the years especially from Hoover.
It’s well known that Madge is highly regarded by coaches, staff and student/athletes as a sort of mother-like figure in the athletic office. She is one of a few ladies I’ve known over time who have that genuine love for others in her daily duties. It’s for this reason I affectionately call her “Mama Madge.”
Here are two memories I think back to in the early days I knew Madge. Back in January of 2003, we were having our football banquet for the 2002 Hoover Buc football team. This was the season we dedicated to Victor D. Hill who died back in June during a workout on the field. We were watching the highlight video where there was about a 5-minute segment dedicated to Victor. I was sitting at a table behind Madge, Faye Street and a few others with the screen high above in front of us all. When the opening scene came on I remember the ladies all emotionally broke down (well, almost all of us did really). That always stuck with me.
The other was back in the spring of 2007. It was about a year after our beloved team doctor (Dr. William “Bill” Bryant) died of a 3-year battle with cancer in the summer of 2006. Madge asked me to explore the possibility of getting Daniel A. Moore to consider doing a painting of Dr. Bryant for us to put up copies in the athletic office as well as the training room.
She knew of my connections with Danny Moore as he had done a painting of Coach Bob Finley for a book I wrote about him as well as paintings distributed throughout. After I discussed this with Danny, he referred me to a former roommate he had at the University of Alabama back in the 1970s who was also an art student at the Capstone. He was Allen Zuniga who was a high school graduating year behind Danny at Berry High School. Allen had also been a member of the 1972 Berry Buc state championship baseball team.
Allen accepted the role of painting of what eventually became an outstanding painting of Bill Bryant. A large framed copy hangs outside the wall of the athletic training as well as a smaller version in the athletic office. I credit Madge with being a major person behind initiating the idea, to begin with.
The following are Madge’s words from an article included in an article I wrote about 2 years ago. It reflects on her duties at Hoover.
“My main responsibility in the Hoover High School athletic office is that of accounts receivable bookkeeper. I process funds from gate/admissions, online fees, entry fees, spirit packs & all booster club fees/fundraisers for deposit. I also reconcile the monthly bank statement & do the compilation on the monthly financial reports due to the Hoover Board of Education & Mr. Don Hulin-our head principal.” (Don has since retired and John Montgomery is now head principal).
“My day is spent assisting the athletic director, assistant athletic director, coaches & booster club officers as needed & ensuring that all Hoover High School athletic funds are deposited in a timely manner. During football season, I enlist gate workers for home games, prepare ticket boxes, parking ticket sale materials & work the pass gate on game day. Those are long but fun days & I enjoy being a part of the festivities. Carol Steinert & I often share duties working the gate for home basketball games & playoff games hosted at HHS venues.”
“After graduating from Auburn University, I was a special education teacher for 5 years in the Phenix City, Alabama school system near my hometown of Columbus, Georgie. I moved back to Auburn after my wedding & commuted there for the last 4 years. We moved to Mobile after my husband, Doug, graduated from Auburn. I was blessed to stay at home to raise our 3 children for many years following when we moved to Hoover in 1984. I worked a couple of part-time jobs & was very active in the Hoover PTA/PTSO/HPTC organization over those years until returning to full-time work here at Hoover High Athletics in May of 2001.”
“Doug & I celebrated 40 years of marriage in August of 2017. We have 3 children, 2 are married & we have 2 grandsons. Andrew is married to Jeanell & they have one son named Declan. Elizabeth is married to Malcolm and they have a son, MacGregor. Daniel is 30 and single. They all live in Hoover & work in the Birmingham area.”
“One of the best aspects of my job is I have met many wonderful coaches, parents, administrators, student/athletes, co-workers & a few celebrities during the last 18 years. I love my job & the people I work with. Seeing the folks each day as they drop by to get their morning coffee & a snack or peppermint, catching up on how the families are doing, having the children drop by to say hello, sharing a laugh or even sad times. Developing those relationships are very rewarding. We laugh together, cry together & share good times & bad. It is good to be a part of the Buc Family.”
Back in December and into January on 2019, Madge found out she has a form of cancer. Because of her hospital and medical situations making her absent from the athletic office, the gym door at basketball games and basically around the school reminds us all of the voidness and hollow feeling of Madge not being there.
However, through her treatments and fighting this cancer, those of us on her Facebook are periodically reminded of Madge’s spiritual strength, boldness, and confidence through her struggles and trials. It actually gives many of us strength if we so deem properly. I talked to Vicki Clark, one of the athletic office secretaries, recently and she told me Madge still sends instructions on matters even through her sickness. True devotion to duties, sense of responsibility and loyalty if I’ve ever heard of it for sure.
There are a host of people of people praying for Madge with loving concern as she continues to face treatments, surgeries, and other medical procedures in her battle against this cancer. The Buc Nation is certainly behind her.