Son of executed Rising leader celebrates 102nd birthday

Fr Joseph Mallin has been a Jesuit priest in Hong Kong since 1948

The only surviving child of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising has celebrated his 102nd birthday.

Fr Joseph Mallin is the son of Commandant Michael Mallin who was second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army during Easter Week 1916.

Born on September 13rd 1913, Fr Mallin was just two and a half years old when his father was executed in Kilmainham Jail.

His father summoned him and his mother to his cell in Kilmainham Jail just before he was executed on May 8th, 1916.

Michael Mallin gave his wife a note stating that he hoped Joseph would become a priest. She was pregnant with the couple’s fifth child.

In recent interviews Fr Mallin has said that his mother rarely talked about her executed husband, but he did see her cry once on the anniversary of his death.

Fr Mallin celebrated his birthday in the Jesuit residence in Hong Kong on Sunday. He has been a priest in Hong Kong since 1948.

His niece Una O’Callanáin says his her uncle remains as mentally alert as ever and still writes to her in Irish on a regular basis. He celebrates mass privately.

She said he is unlikely to be able to attend the 1916 commemorations next year because of a lack of mobility, but he has taken a strong interest in it and in Irish affairs in general. “He knows everything that goes on. Nothing escapes him,” she said.

Mrs O'Callanáin's father Seamus Mallin was 12 when Michael Mallin was executed,

During his courtmartial Michael Mallin claimed that he was not a leader of the Rising and did not have a commission in the Irish Citizen Army. The British refused to execute Countess Markievicz, the commander of the Irish Citizen Army, because she was a woman. Michael Mallin was next in line.

Paul Horan, who is researching the Rising families, said it was remakable that a "child of the Rising may be around for the Rising centenary commemorations".

Mr Horan, a lecturer in nursing studies in Trinity College Dublin, said it was important that the stories of the children of the Rising should be collected for posterity.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times