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Ireland Remembers the Easter Rising of 1916

April 17, 2018
Rev. Joseph Mallin.

An Irish priest whose father was executed by the British for participating in the Easter Rising in 1916 that led to the independence of Ireland, passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 104.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Mallin belonged to the Company of Jesus. He died at the age of 104 in a Jesuit community house in Hong Kong where he had been stationed since 1948. His father was Commandant Michael Mallin, who led the Irish Citizen Army at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin during Easter Week.

The Easter Rising

On April 24, 1916, Easter Monday, 200 members of the Irish Citizen Army and 550 Irish Volunteers, including 90 women, took sixteen strategic points in the Irish capital. These 750 soldiers of the Republic faced 2,500 British soldiers, who were joined by many additional troops during the following days. Barricades were set up and all means of communication were cut off. The rebels took several buildings in the city center, including the town hall, the post office, the courthouse, and the train stations. They hoisted the tricolored flag of Ireland above the Post Office. The declaration of independence, signed by Connolly, Pearse, Clarke, and four other leaders, was posted up all over Dublin.

But six thousand British soldiers were soon sent in. For a whole week, the rebellion was severely repressed, leaving 500 dead and 2,500 wounded.

Tried by the British for high treason and imprisoned at Kilmainham, Michael Mallin was condemned to death by the Crown. His execution on May 8, 1916, along with his brothers in arms, was the ultimate incentive the Irish nation needed to conquer its independence, which became a reality a few years later when the treaty of London was signed on December 6, 1921. 

Barricades in the streets of Dublin in April of 1916.

The Son of a Hero

Joseph Mallin was too young at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916 to remember his father, but his mother told him many times of the Irish resistance leader’s last moments. Just before his execution, Michael Mallin spoke to his wife and children: “Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can,” he told the little two-year-old boy. He wrote a note to his daughter Una, encouraging her to embrace the religious life, which she later did.

Very moved at hearing of the death of Michael Mallin’s son, the mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, expressed his condolences to the members of the Jesuit’s family in the following terms: “It is with sadness we learned on Easter Sunday morning, as we commemorate the 1916 Rising, of the death of Fr. Joseph Mallin….He cherished the memory of his father and his legacy of commitment to the cause of Irish freedom.”

And the mayor ended his homage with: “Fr. Joseph’s sincere patriotism was an inspiration and it was a great source of pride that he held the Freedom of the City of Dublin.” Catholic and Irish forever!