The tragedy that lies behind iconic punk girl image

Conor Feehan

BEHIND the joy of Dublin author Helen Seymour's debut book Beautiful Noise lies tragedy.

The front cover features the 1980s image of a punk girl with a radical mohican, a studded collar around her neck, a cigarette in her fingers, and another one behind her ear.

It was a common sight back then and Dublin in recession was when the punk scene was strong.

The girl in the picture is Clontarf girl Julie Madden, who was killed in a horse riding accident.

"She was 18 when that picture first appeared in a newspaper on September 17 1983, but she was killed in a freak accident in 1990," Helen remembers.

"I used to be into horses when I was younger and was always at the stables.

"All us stable girls hung around and Julie was one of them," she added.

"Julie was a fantastic horse rider. She was skilled and fearless and all she wanted to do was ride horses.

"She was told that she was so talented she could represent Ireland in the Olympics," said Helen.

"I remember when I was writing the book that I knew I wanted that photograph to be on the cover. I could see it in my mind," Helen explained.


"The spirit of the character Iris in the book is based a bit on Julie, and part of me writing the book was dealing with her death in many ways," she added.

Inside the book, Helen has penned a dedication to Julie.

"Happy memories of teenage summers. The horses. The hay. Boys with bikes. Mohican spikes. We miss you," it reads.

"Julie's brother Marcell has flown home from Boston for the launch of the book, and he told me that the photograph was taken outside Freebird records on Grafton Street," Helen told the Herald.

"The ironic thing is that Beautiful Noise is in Dubray books now, and Marcell said it was great that after 30 years Julie was back on Grafton Street again."