‘Fīor Eireannach gan dabht’

joe mallin

‘Fīor Eireannach gan dabht’

Joe Mallin SJ, son of Commdt. Michael Mallin, who was executed for his role in the Easter Rising, died peacefully and fittingly, on Easter Sunday morning, 1 April 2018, in Hong Kong. He was 104 years old.

He was born in 1914, just two years before his father was executed by firing squad, leaving a wife and five small children. One of Fr Joseph’s brothers, Seán, also became a Jesuit priest, and his sister Úna entered the Loreto order in 1925. She was sent to a convent in Spain, where she spent the rest of her life. Commdt. Mallin would have been proud of his children. In his last letter he wrote: : “Úna, my little one, be a nun; Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can …” Fr Joe joined the Jesuits, and in 1948 he went to Hong Kong and China as part of the Irish Jesuit mission to China. He spent over 70 years of his life there.

According to Fr Alfred Deignan, another Irish Jesuit missionary there, this mission was a new challenge to the Irish Province, “and a new experience for the Jesuits who went there to work among poor people speaking a different language, the Cantonese dialect, with different food, customs and weather, often very hot and humid.” Fr Joe taught in a a Jesuit-run secondary school and was still holding teaching duties there when he returned to Ireland in 2006 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 2006.

Fr. Joseph, a freeman of Dublin, received an invitation from the Taoiseach’s Office to attend the 90th commemoration, as the child of Commandant Michael Mallin, who was chief-of-staff of the Irish Citizen’s Army and commander of the St. Stephen’s Green garrison during the Easter Rising. Commdt. Mallin was executed in the Stonebreakers’ Yard, Kilmainham Gaol, along with the other leaders of the revolt, and buried in Arbour Hill.

His visit at that time attracted a great deal of media attention. The late Gerald Barry interviewed him for the Easter Sunday edition of ‘This Week’ (RTE 1, 1.00pm), and he also spoke to Joe Little for RTE News and to a Sky News correspondent. “I will attend the parade on Easter Sunday, as the Government was good enough to invite me, but what I am most looking forward to is being able to go to the grave of my father in Arbour Hill, with the other families of those executed, for a ceremony in early May,” he said.

In a moving statement on his death, Fr Joe’s family in Ireland said, “Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ was the last direct living link with that period of our history… He served for more than 70 years as a missionary and educator in mainland China and Hong Kong… and like most teachers, he often talked with pride of the pupils educated at that college, many of whom went on to become leaders in their various walks of life.”

They also spoke of the kind of man Fr Joseph was to them, singling out his humility and spirituality. “He had a deeply held Christian faith and love for his fellow man and woman. His was a practical faith with a strong base in social justice and equality; not unlike his father who as a trade union activist fought for social justice and workers’ rights and who gave his young life for such a cause.”

They spoke also of his communication skills – “Fr. Joseph was… a prolific letter writer, just like his father, and he wrote letters to his family members on a regular basis and also to many other correspondents, never failing to respond to a letter when anyone wrote to him, be it a young school child from Donegal or an academic historian from the University, they would receive a thoughtful reply.” And of his love of the Irish language – “His command of the Irish language, written and oral, was unbelievable considering he was out of the country since 1948. He wrote to family members and others as Gaeilge – always, san sean-cló, in the old Irish script, and he was delighted to speak Irish to anybody from Ireland who visited him, Fīor Eireannach gan dabht. He had numerous friends in Ireland and around the world. He kept in contact with them all and whenever he was home in Ireland he would make sure to visit them. (Read their full statement below).

The funeral Mass for Fr Joe will take place at 10am on Saturday, 14 April, at St Ignatius Chapel, Wah Yan College Kowloon.The burial will take place after the Mass at St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley, Hong Kong. The Mass will be presided by the Bishop of Hong Kong.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Statement from the Mallin/Hickey Family on the death of Fr Joe

It is with great personal sadness that we learned from Hong Kong this Easter morning of the death of Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ, and just as we were about to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising. We always knew this day was near but it came as a shock all the same to know that Fr. Joseph is gone to his heavenly reward. What a poignant day to complete his earthly life. And what a good and long life in the service of God it was and he lived it well. May he rest in peace. We will miss him. Solas na bhflaitheas dó agus ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Joseph Michael Mallin was born in September 1913. He was the youngest son of Agnes Hickey and Michael Mallin. His mother was the daughter of Joseph Hickey, a Fenian man who was deported from Ireland for 11 years for his part in the Fenian Rising of 1867, and the granddaughter of John Francis Nugent a United Irishman, a printer & publisher from Cookstown Co. Tyrone. Agnes was born in Liverpool in 1870 during the deportation. Joseph was just a young boy when his father, Michael Mallin, Commandant and Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Citizen Army was executed at Kilmainham Gaol in 1916.

Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ was the last direct living link with that period of our history. His siblings, brothers Séamus and Fr. Seán, sisters Sr. Agnes, a Nun with the Loreto Community in Seville, Spain, and Maura Phillips have all predeceased him.

He served for more than 70 years as a missionary and educator in mainland China and Hong Kong with the Jesuit community there. He was ordained in 1946 and two years later was sent to the Jesuit Mission in China. He worked tirelessly for the people there. He loved that community and they loved him and it is there where he will be laid to rest. With others he played a significant part in the ongoing development of education and progress of Wah Yan School and college in Hong Kong and Kowloon. He managed Wah Yan College for a number of years and, like most teachers, he often talked with pride of the pupils educated at that college, many of whom went on to become leaders in their various walks of life.

Fr. Joseph was a very spiritual and humble man. He had a deeply held Christian faith and love for his fellow man and woman. His was a practical faith with a strong base in social justice and equality; not unlike his father who as a trade union activist fought for social justice and workers’ rights and who gave his young life for such a cause.

Fr. Joseph lived to be 104. He was given more time than most on this earth and he used that time wisely. His parents, Michael and Agnes Mallin would be very proud of their son’s achievements and the way he lived his life.

Fr. Joseph was a great communicator all his life, a prolific letter writer, just like his father. He was an inveterate letter-writer and he wrote letters to his family members on a regular basis and also to many other correspondents, never failing to respond to a letter when anyone wrote to him, be it a young school child from Donegal or an academic historian from the University, they would receive a thoughtful reply. His command of the Irish language, written and oral, was unbelievable considering he was out of the country since 1948. He wrote to family members and others as Gaeilge – always, san sean-cló, in the old Irish script, and he was delighted to speak Irish to anybody from Ireland who visited him, Fīor Eireannach gan dabht. He had numerous friends in Ireland and around the world. He kept in contact with them all and whenever he was home in Ireland he would make sure to visit them.

Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ was proud to be honoured with the Freedom of the City of Dublin during the 1916 Centenary Commemorations. An honour presented for his service to education and his family’s connection to the Easter 1916 Rising and the struggle for Irish Independence.

One of his last official acts was his major historical contribution to the memory of his father, Commandant Michael Mallin. This historical document was published last year and it presents new insights and facts about the record of his father’s court martial. This document is now available in the archives of Kilmainham Gaol Museum and the National Library of Ireland. It was Fr. Joseph’s wish that historians would be cognisant of this work.

ENDS

Author: Irish Jesuits, April 2018

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