The Military Army Blog

Last surviving son of a 1916 Easter Rising leader celebrates his …

Last Surviving Son Of A 1916 Easter Rising Leader Celebrates His ...

Father Joseph Mallin, son of Commandant Michael Mallin executed for his role in the 1916 Rising, celebrated his birthday this week in Hong Kong. Photo by: Mallin Family

The only surviving son of an executed 1916 Rising leader[1] celebrated his 102nd birthday in Hong Kong last Sunday, September 13. Father Joseph Mallin was just two and a half years old when he accompanied his mother as she made her final visit to Kilmainham Gaol (jail) to see her husband before he was executed for his role as a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. Born on September 13, 1913, Fr Mallin is the son of Commandant Michael Mallin[2], who was second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army during the Rising, serving just below James Connolly.

Fr. Joseph Mallin still being alive at 102 years young, almost 100 years since his father’s execution in 1916, in real terms would be a bit like having a child of a signatory of the Declaration of independence in America in 1776 alive in 1875 on the eve hundredth anniversary of the declaration of American independence, said Paul Horan, who is researching the Rising families[3].

Born in Dublin to carpenter John Mallin, Michael Mallin[4] worked as as silk weaver and co-founded the Irish Socialist Party with Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. On the 102nd anniversary of his son s birth, Michael and Joseph are remembered by artist Declan Kerr in a stunning image (featured below) of 102-year old Joseph sitting beside his father holding him as a young child.

Last Surviving Son Of A 1916 Easter Rising Leader Celebrates His ...

Before his execution on May 8, 1916, Commandant Mallin summoned his family to his jail cell, handing his wife, who was at the time pregnant with their fifth child, a note in which he told his young son Joseph to try to become a priest in his future.

Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can, the note is believed to have said. And that is exactly what Joseph did; he became a priest. Fr Mallin has spent over sixty years as a Jesuit missionary in China, working at the Wah Yan College a Roman Catholic secondary school for boys run by the Society of Jesus. Horan, a lecturer in nursing studies in Trinity College Dublin, stresses how important it is to tell the story of the Rising families to give us a greater understanding of the individuals who took part, by looking at where they came from.

I believe it’s as important to remember those people who took part in the Rising and their families equally, he tells IrishCentral.

Without our parents we would not be. Without our families we would not flourish, as surely we are nourished by each of our family’s unconditional love.

Put simply, without family there would be no revolutionaries. In many ways, developing an understanding of the family context in which the Rising participants lived gives us a greater sense of the individuals who took part in the Rising which is often very different from our received history at school or in books.

Joseph Mallin has lived in China since 1948, and marked his birthday at his home there in the Jesuit residence last Sunday with his friends. Unfortunately, it is believed that Fr Mallin will be unable to return to Ireland for the Rising 100 year commemoration in 2016 due to reduced mobility skills, although he still stays in touch with his homeland.

Last Surviving Son Of A 1916 Easter Rising Leader Celebrates His ...

His niece Una O Callan in told the Irish Times that, although he last traveled to Ireland when he was 90 and has considered Hong Kong his home for a long time, he still stays up to date on all goings-on in Ireland and even still writes to her in Irish on occasion. O Callan in s own father, S amus, was 12 years old when her grandfather was executed as a 1916 Rising leader. A socialist who had also previously served in the British Army, Michael Mallin was 41 when he became one of the 15 leaders to be executed[5] in May 1916.

He left behind a wife and five children three boys and two girls, the youngest of whom, na, was born four months after his death. In recent interviews, Joseph has said that he rarely heard his mother speak about their father after his death, although he does remember her crying one time on the anniversary of his execution. It is believed that Mallin claimed he was not one of the leaders of the Rising[6] during his court martial and that he told the British Army he did not have a commission in the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) but had been told to take over Stephen’s Green on his arrival by Countess Markievicz. Unfortunately for Mallin, however, the British refused to execute Markievicz because she was a woman, and Mallin was then executed as next in line (although in reality, she had been his second in command[7]).

Born during Larkin s Lockout in 1913, Fr Mallin says that some of his first memories are of 1916, seeing Michael Collins marching through the ruins of O Connell Street and visiting his father in Kilmainham. You can see Joseph speaking about his remarkable family history in the video below, including the final words of his father to their family.

Although Joseph may not be able to attend the 2016 events, the memory of his family s story will help to shape the narrative around our country s own memories of 1916.

In speaking with families and descendants of Rising participants[8], wounded, killed and executed, I have uncovered an often far richer, different and conveniently untold stories of what occurred which make much better and far harsher reading sometimes than the sanitized accounts that have traveled to the public psyche through time, laden with all sorts of biases, believes Horan.

Researching and remembering the individuals who participated, lived through, died, witnessed, were wounded, executed or imprisoned in 1916 and their families can offer a much more human view of what occurred away from the glare of the propaganda that much of the censored and biased historical accounts have offered since the events of Easter Week 1916.


  1. ^ only surviving son of an executed 1916 Rising leader (
  2. ^ the son of Commandant Michael Mallin (
  3. ^ researching the Rising families (
  4. ^ Michael Mallin (
  5. ^ 15 leaders to be executed (
  6. ^ the leaders of the Rising (
  7. ^ his second in command (
  8. ^ descendants of Rising participants (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *