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Boy (8) learns of death of priest (104) with sadness

Seosamh O’Ceallaigh.


The death of the last surviving child of an executed leader of the 1916 Rising was learned of with great sadness by one young Donegal pupil.
Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh (8) from Gortahork wrote a series of letters to Fr Joseph Mallin (104) who was a Jesuit priest based in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. His father was Commandant Michael Mallin who was in command of the Irish Citizen Army at St Stephen’s Green during Easter week.
Seosamh first wrote to Fr Mallin as part of the 1916 celebrations at his school in Gortahork.
“Seosamh sent him various objects including a Saint Brigit’s cross, a watercolor drawing of Muckish and pictures of the 1916 celebrations in Gortahork. He had been hoping to send him a first Holy communion picture after May 12th,” Seosamh’s father Seosamh (snr) said.
“Fr Mallin, in his last letter, wrote how he hung with pride a picture over his bed of Seosamh and the children in his class at Gortakork who were holding a picture of his father who was executed in 1916. He liked the picture very much.
“He ends the letter with ‘Beannacht agus blath oraibh uilig’ – blessing and prosperity to you all’ but then adds a postscript on top of the first page – ‘I am crumpled up in a chair, it is difficult work keeping control of the pen’. Those were his final words,” he added.
A local Donegal historian and former member of Donegal County Council, Mr Ó Ceallaigh said that Fr Mallin was only two and a half years old and therefore has no memories of his father but was very moved by the letters written to him.
“In one of his letters he talks about his visit to Glencolmcille in 1948. He also was up to date asking about Brexit, Treasa M (as he put it) and Leo Vadradkar our Taoiseach. Both Seosamh and he corresponded as Gaeilge. We have ten letters from him, written in the old Irish alphabet and spelling. In his last letter he wrote at 104, saying it was hard for him to hold the pen in his hand. He wrote all his letters himself and addressed them by hand as well,” he said.

Litir o fr Mallin

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