DUBLIN, Ireland – A priest whose father was executed following Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising has died at the age of 104, after a lifetime of mission work.
Jesuit Father Joseph Mallin passed away early Easter Sunday at a Jesuit community house in Hong Kong, where he had served as a missionary since 1948, RTE News reports. He was the last surviving child of the leaders of the uprising that led to Irish independence.
Just hours after he died, Irish officials held a pre-scheduled Easter Rising memorial outside Dublin’s General Post Office, the site of the uprising’s launch.
“He was 104-and-a-half, but it is still a shock and especially on Easter Sunday,” his niece Úna Ó Callanain said at the event, according to the Irish Times.
His father, Commandant Michael Mallin, was imprisoned at Kilmainham Jail after leading troops of the Irish Citizen Army at St. Stephen’s Green during Easter Week.
Set to be executed on May 8, 1916, he summoned his children, including the future priest, and his wife. Though Mallin did not know it, his wife was pregnant with their fifth child at the time of his execution.
He gave his wife a note with comments for his children.
“Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can,” the note told the child. He also wrote to his daughter Una that she should become a nun, which she later did.
The Easter Rising did not go according to plan and Irish republican forces were defeated within days by the British military. Initially, the failed action alienated a significant portion of the people of Dublin.
However, the execution of the uprising’s leaders provoked such a hostile reaction from the Irish people that it gave new momentum towards Irish independence from Britain.
The aftermath of the uprising set the stage for partition between what would become the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, through a 1921 treaty that prompted a short civil war in Ireland and ongoing troubles that linger through the present.
Mallin has said he was too young to remember his father. He received the Freedom of the City of Dublin honor in 2016, one of only 78 people to have received the honor.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál MacDonncha voiced his condolences to the priest’s family and reflected on the importance of the priest’s life.
“It is with sadness we learned on Easter Sunday morning, as we commemorate the 1916 Rising, of the death of Father Joseph Mallin. I extend deepest sympathy to all his family and friends,” MacDonncha said, the Irish newspaper The Journal reports.
“Son of executed 1916 leader Michael Mallin, Father Joseph cherished the memory of his father and his legacy of commitment to the cause of Irish freedom,” the mayor continued. “Father 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.”